Skip to main content

Full text of "Berdan's United States sharpshooters in the Army of the Potomac, 1861-1865"

See other formats




% s 


United States Sharpshooters 


Army of the Potomac 



( Historian.) 


Contentions fierce. 
Ardent, and dire, spring from no petty cause. — Scott. 



Copyrighted 1S92 






ST. PAt'L, MIN'N". 





The men who handled the weapons, that did the fighting, 
Is this History Dedicated. 

When traitrovs foes with an insolence high, 

Resolved our bright banner to lower; 
The brave sprang to arms as the danger drew nigh, 

Each heart felt a patriot's power. 

They went with a zeal which stern duty imparts, 

As their fathers ot old went before them ; 
With the prayers oi their loved ones warm in their hearts 

And the Hag of their hopes £oating o'er them. 

Brave hearts, we'll not mourn thee, for glorious deeds 

Will live both in song and in story ; 
And thy country will build for her children who bleed, 

A monument bright with her glory. 

—J. Ha wes. 
Madison, Wis., 1862. 


The authority for writing this book was conferred upon 
the author by the Survivors' Association of the United 
States Sharpshooters, at Boston in 1890 for the First Regi- 
ment, and at Detroit in 1891 for the Second Regiment. This 
task was accepted with the expectation of being generally 
assisted by contributions of incidents from members of both 
regiments; but in this I have been considerably disap- 
pointed; so that it has occupied the two years endeavor- 
ing to obtain facts, especially relating to the "casualties," 
which have been very difficult to get. Since the work was 
written I concluded to add the company rosters, and to 
them refer for casualties not found elsewhere in the book, 
and altogether so for the Second Regiment. But as I have 
been unable to obtain anything likecomplete rosters, except- 
ing of a very few companies, and with some of them none 
at all, I was obliged at the last moment to give that up. 
Valuable aid, however, has been rendered, for which my sin- 
cerest thanks are tendered. 

It is a pretty difficult matter to write a history of such 
an organization as ours, composed of so many companies 
from different states, and there must be many things left 
out that would add interest to the work. Nevertheless, 
the writer most sincerely hopes that in its general character 
after making due allowance for possible errors, the history 
will be satisfactory, as it is as impartial and truthful as the 
historian could possibly make it. 

Furthermore, it would be well to state that while this is 
a history of the Sharpshooters, there has been at no time a 
desire to make it appear that "we did it all." On the con- 
trary, much pains has been taken to obtain the names of 
organizations engaged with us in every battle of impor- 
tance, and to refer to their part as well as our own. By this 
means, a better idea of the engagement is obtained. 

C. A. S. 

Shakopee, Minn., Aug. 1, 1892. 



The Union Volunteers— Sharpshooter Organization— Required Test- 
Camp of Instruction — Target Practice — Breech-Loader Contro- 
versy—Sharps Rifles for Skirmishers— Battles of Lewinsville and 
Munson's Hill— President Lincoln as a Rifle Shot— Col. Berdan 
Put to the Test— Prize Shooting— Forged Pass— Camp Duties- 
Nine Smiths — Sickness and Deaths — Sanitary Reports — Dress 
Parades and Drills— Fence Destroyers— Open- Air Sports— Band of 
Brothers— Soldier Tricks — Persistent Church Member— Cussed 
Volunteer— Martinets— Reviews and Visits— March Comes, and 
Marching Orders, -- 1 


The Peninsular Campaign— Breaking Camp— From Washington to 
Alexandria — Heavy Knapsacks, Rain and Mud — Camp Californy 
—Colt's Revolving Rifle— Regimental Officers— Down the Potomac 
— Mount Vernon — Fortress Monroe — The Monitor — Arrival at 
Hampton— Deserted Village— Hungry Volunteers— "John Brown" 
and " Dixie "—Army Chorus—" Fall In ! "—Beginning of War, - - 26 

Big Bethel— Fitz John Porter's Division— Sharpshooters in Front- 
Position of Honor — Successful Reconnoisance — Return to Camp 
Porter— Odell and the Brute— His "Little Flirt"— Gen. McClellan 
on the Field— His Army— Another Advance— Sharpshooters Lead 
the Way— Howard's Bridge— Foraging Molasses, 32 

Battle of Yorktown— Droll Occurrence— Sharpshooter Engagement— 
"Corporal Peck Hit "—Barrett's Account— Peach Orchard Fence- 
Silencing Rebel Cannon— Truman Head— Enemy's Cavalry— Scat- 
tered and Scampered— Our Good Batteries— Fiery Shower— First 
Sharpshooter Killed— Retaliation— Narrow Escapes— Good Day's 
Work— Complimentary Notices— Scanty Rations— Fresh Beef— No 
Salt, Plenty Garlic— Winchell's Relief— Loaded With Coffee and 
Sugar — Bibulous Sutler — Confiscated Greenbacks — Siege Opera- 
tions, 37 


Siege of Yorktown — Camp Winficld Scott— Rifle Pit Service— Wild 
Balloons — Night Skirmishes — California Joe — Col. Baker's Poem 
—Good Shot— Picket Talk — Rebel Darkey — Mortar Shelling— 
Special Scouts — Blunder Work — Hurried Fight — Sand as an Explo- 
sive — Joe Durkee — Rebel Boasting — High-Toned Rifle Pits — Captur- 
ing a Cannon— Old Seth— Confederate Crows— Berdan's Orders— 
The Evacuation — Rebel Torpedoes — Sharpshooters First in York- 
town — Spoils of War — Great Enthusiasm — Berdan and Ripley — 
Smith's Division, 45 

Warwick River — Pursuing the Enemy — Williamsburg — A Rough Night 
— Sorry Soldiers — Aschmann's Report — Casualties of War — Headed 
for Richmond — Yorktown — Entering the Village — Company L — 
Unfortunate Telegraphist — SharpshootingTestimom- — The Sharps 
Rifles — York River — Scene on the Water — Franklin's Division — 
West Point Landing— Shallow Waters — Well-Ducked Cattle- 
Swimming Horses — Tough Marching — Cumberland Landing — 
Weight of Knapsacks — Seward's Visit — Five Miles in 10 Hours — 
White House — Dust and Destruction — Fatal Vaccination — March- 
ing On — Provost-Guard — Protecting Enemy — Rebel Pillagers — 
Barker's Mills — Buj^ing Provisions — Union Gold vs. Confederate 
Scrip — Slight Yankee Trick — Camping on the Chickahomhry — 
Gaines' Hill, • - - 70 

Hanover Court House — McClellan's Promptness — On the Alert — 
Eighteen Miles Through Rain and Mud— Kinney's Farm— 25th 
New York — Fire in Rear — Counter-March — Peake's Station — Down 
their Flank— Great Victory— Gen. Branch— Capt. Griffin's Shell- 
Capture of Dr. Marshall — Subsequent Death — Possum-Playing 
Nurse— Atwell's Exploit— Vincent's Quick Shot— Riddled Woods 
and Fences— Paddy's Bayonet— Peck's Rifle— Vermont Boj- Ahead 
—Revolver and Sword— "Snap Shot "—Mailed Shirt— Wild Allen— 
McClellan Cheered — Porter's Report— Return to Camp— Mired 
Soldier — Striking Lightning — Dessicated Vegetables — In the Soup — 
"Good-Bye" Company L — 1st Minnesota and 2d Wisconsin— Fair 
Oaks — Guarding the Swamp — Balloon Observations — Dr. Gaines — 
Plucky Corporal— Insolent Doctor— Brought to His Senses by a 
" Yankee Hireling " — Rebel Cannon vs. Union Balloons, - - - - 83 

Grapevine Bridge— Regiment Divided— Detached Companies— "Nine 
Mile Road" — Sharpshooter Decoys — Damaged Johnny — Baldy 
Smith — Fort Davidson — Prevailing Sickness— Chickahominy 
Swamp— Battered Town— Good Men Die from Swamp Fever- 
Tom McCaul's Adventure— Stealing Dead Comrade— Off to Wis- 
consin—Bold and Successful— Slocum's Division— Fair Oaks Bat- 


tie Field — An Unpleasant Resort — Half Buried Soldiers in Scanty 
Graves — A Forbidden Spot — McCall's Division — Increasing Enemy 
— Storm Brewing — Nigger on Horseback, ---------- 95 

The Seven Days' Battles — Ordered into line — Knapsacks Stacked and 
Everything Ready — Return of Runaway — A Swig and Puff— Into 
The Fight— Battle of Mechanicsville — Sharpshooters and Bucktails— 
Rescued by Gen. Reynolds — Capt. Drew's Escape — Fleeting Moments 
— Rebel Repulse and Union Victory — Pennsylvania Reserves — 
McCall's Report — Reserve Companies — Berdan's Discovery — 
Major Stone's Report— Sergt. Hetherington's Scout— Battle of 
Gaines' Mill— Tommy's Straw Hat— Rebel Flag— Last of the Lan- 
cers — Berdan and Matheson — Crossing Swamp — Loss of Hair- 
Covered Knapsacks— Ten Shots a Minute — Change of Base— People 
Will Talk— A Checkmate, 101 

Garnett's Farm — Major Trepp's Command — Golding's Farm — Protect- 
ing Details — Destroying Bridges — Gen. Smith's Front — Newton's 
Brigade— Off for James River— Illumed Destruction— California 
Regiment — Bottom's Bridge — Burning Train — Isolated Com- 
panies — Allen's Farm — Sumner's Corps — Sharpshooters Surprised 
Left Behind— Taking to Woods— Report to Gen. Richardson— Con- 
soling Answer— Savage Station— Burns' Brigade— Gen. Lee Heard 
From — Sick and Disabled — Caldwell's Brigade — Union Surprise 
Party— In Ambush— Excited but Vigilant, 122 

White Oak Swamp — Confused Troops — Intense Heat and No Water — 
Capt. Hasting's Darky — " Dis is no place for me, Sar" — Dirt- 
Packed Ears— " Terrible " Sun— Glendale— Suffering Sharpshooters 
—Grievous Losses— Death of Capt. Drew— Last Bugle Notes- 
Narrow Escapes — Capture of Gen. McCall — "Hand to Hand and 
Foot to Foot"— The Day Saved— Night in the Wood— Johnnies 
and Yanks Slightly Mixed— Louisiana Tiger— Wisconsin Badger— 
And California Hunter — Luckless Grayback — Night Volley — Sharp- 
shooter Shot— Midnight March— Turkey Bend— The Separated 
Connected— Col. Barlow— Hot Place— Fighting in the Dark— Lieu- 
tenant Peet Wounded— The Regimental Command— Reconnoitering 
in the Dark with Gen. Porter— Starved Out, Gaunt, and Weary 
Men — Hooker's Division, ----------------- 130 

Malvern Hill— Last of the Seven Days— Magruder's Columns— We 
Win — Demoralized Confederates — Gunpowder and Whisky — Col. 
Ripley Wounded, Resigns— Sergt. Tyler— Dangerous Duty Well 
Performed— Porter's Statements— Berdan's Report— Fresh Beef— 
" Hot and Hungry " Soldiers— The 1st Michigan— Reserves Under 
Fire— McClellan's Panegyric on the Army of the Potomac— Leav- 


ing Malvern— Lame, Halt and Blind— The Tall Corporal on the 
Right — Lost Vermonter — Arrival at Harrison's Landing — Shields' 
Division— Saucy Rebs— The Sea of Mud— Glorious Old Horse- 
Going into Camp — President Lincoln Comes — McClellan Reviews — 
Sorrow at the Losses— More Sickness, More Deaths— Fresh 
Rations — Lemons and Peaches — Darkies and Flies — Recruiting 
Details— August 1st— Grand Rumpus by the Enemy— Unexpected 
Shelling — Union Camp in an Uproar — Quiet Restored — Rebels 
Decamping, - - - - - ----------------- 142 

The Second Regiment— From Washington to Second Bull Run- 
McDowell's Corps— Their First Skirmish— The Unfortunate Scout— 
Falmouth— Good Work with Colts— Into Fredericksburg— March- 
ing South to Join McClellan— Jackson Interferes — "In Four Dif- 
ferent Directions" — Exchanging Shots with Rebel Cavalrj'— Forced 
March — Railway Casualty — Forty-four Sharpshooters Injured — 
Return to Fredericksburg— Colts Rifles no Longer— New Sharps 
Received — Orange Court House — Fatal Trajectories — Gibbon in 
Command— Good Gervice— Col. Peteler— Guiney's Station— Back 
to Falmouth— Too Late for Cedar Mountain— Banks Falls Back— 
Rappahannock Station— Reb Captain— Flag of Truce— Sulphur 
Springs — Driving a Rebel Battery — Arrival at Manassas, - - - - 160 


Harrison's Landing to Washington— Army of the Potomac Ordered 
Away — Lee Reinforces Jackson — Pope's Rear — Sensational Rumors 
— Stuart s Cavalry Raid — Pope's Dispatch Book — Stuart's Report 
— Pope's Indignation— Intelligent Contrabands— Traversing the 
Peninsula— Green Fruit Medicine— Embarking at Newport 
News— Acquia Creek— Tedious Landing— Cars for Falmouth— 
Marching to Barnett's Ford— Changing Positions— Moving North 
—Night at Warrenton Junction— Ready for the March— Sleepy 
Infantry— Grumbling and Swearing— Disgust, but no Explanation 
—A Dark Night— Orders Countermanded— Road Blocked— Pope's 
Wagons— Bristoe— 5th Corps Get There— Hooker's Fight— Gibbon 
at Gainesville— Black Hatted Fellows— Second Sharpshooters— 
Off for Centreville— About Face— Fight Mit Sigel— Bad Gap— Jack- 
son and Longstreet, ---- -------------- 172 

Dawkin's Branch — Second Regiment on the Centreville Road — 
Col. Post Saves the Flag— Groveton— Terrific Struggle— War- 
ren's Brigade— Regulars and Reserves — Undismayed— Drawn 
•^Battle— Berdan's Orders— He was Right— Col. Robert's Report 
i —Rebel Balls Thicker Than Leaves— Our Boys at the Ditch 
—Second Regiment Reviewed— Col. Peteler— Bob Casey's Anger 


—His Last Shot— Dropped from a Tree Top— Sergt. Brown- 
Porter's Compliments — Crossing Bull Run — "Rations and Rein- 
forcements" — Back to Starting Point — Raw Troops to Vet- 
erans— 5th Corps Triumphs — Chantilly — Stevens and Kearny 
— Gen. Pope Departs — McClellan in Command — Arnry of the 
Potomac Ready for Another Fight— Recruits Coming In, - - - 179 


The Maryland Division — Away from Washington — Second at South 
Mountain — Hot Weather and Sunstrokes — More Recruits — Battle of 
Antietam— Hard Fought and Victorious— Lincoln to McClellan— 
" God Bless you and All With You — Second Sharpshooters Lose 
Heavy— Capture of Flags — Howard's Wounds — Adjutant Parmelee 
— Jack Whitman — Independent Sharpshooters — Telescope Rifles 
Compared to Clubs— Gen. Gorman Speaks— Co. L Suffers, - - 194 

Blackford's Ford— Sharpshooter Gallantry— Much Captured Cannon 
— Unfortunate Pennsylvanians — Spurious Enfields — Ready Volun- 
teers — Rushing Waters Have no Terrors— Berd an and Marble on 
Recruits— " Send More of the Same Sort"— Porter on Glorious 
Result— Lincoln Makes Another Visit— Hard Worked Soldiers- 
Sadness and Gloom— Their Depleted Ranks— Worn Out Clothes 
and Wormy Rations — Paper Shoes — Greedy Contractors — Good 
Quartermasters— Regular Army Shoe— The Things for Marching- 
Boots a Nuisance — Sorry Soldiers — Humphrey's Division — Rebel 
Stuart Around— Leaving Sharpsburg— Into Virginia Again— 
Snicker's Gap — Climbing Mountains at Night — Slippery Business — 
"White Plains Snowstorm— Gen. McClellan Relieved— Burnside in 
Command— Gen. Porter Relieved— Hooker Takes the 5th Corps— 
McClellan's Farewell, 206 


Under Burnside— ±5 Miles in 7 Days— Quarters at Falmouth— Short 
Rations— Poor Clothing— Dissatisfied Soldiers— Xo Pay and Bad 
Humor — Pilfered Knapsacks — "Sixty Rounds Ammunition and 
Marching Orders"— Battle of Fredericksburg— Great Slaughter— 
The Lost in Action— Outpost Duty— After the Battle— Sharp- 
shooters Last to Recross the River at Fredericksburg — The Left 
Wing— Second Sharpshooters in Good Service— Solid Shot— Scat- 
tered Clothing and Flying Envelopes — Pettijohn's Ear — Reckless 
Rebs— Meet and Shake— The Battle Criticised— People to Blame- 
Not the Soldiers, 216 


Ellis Ford— Sharpshooters and Cavalry— Slippery Ford— Mid-deep 
and Cold— Adjutant Horton— Rebel Treed— Long Chase— Ugly 
Brute— Richard's Ford— New Year's Day— Important Capture — 
Fowl Prisoners — Work for Veterans — Men of Iron — Sharpshooter 
Brigade — Colonel Berdau, Chief— Mud March — Bank's Ford — Rain 
in Torrents — Stuck in the Mud — Returning to Camp — A Difficult 
Matter— Corduroy Roads— An HonestR equisition, 226 


Winter Quarters— Anniversary Exercises — Grand Shooting Match — 
Champion Medals — Other Sports — Wild Jerseyman — Trepp on 
Berdan— "He Beats der Teifel ! "—Changing Camp— Gambling— 
" Telescopes" At Rest— Off-Hand Breech-loaders— Bite and Tear 
Cartridge — Safety Sharps — Returned Prisoner — Rappahannock 
Mud— The Lost Shirt— Picket Alarm— Signal Lights— Clattering 
Hoofs— Sleepy Reserves— Disturbing the Concern— The " Wide- 
Awake" Fast Asleep — Picket Crawlers — Straggling Grayback — 
Pertaining tc Discipline— Stalwart Peeper— Longest Way Around 
the Shortest Way Home — Constitutional Cowards — First Example 
—Uncomplaining Fighters— Trouble in Camp— Officers Quarrel- 
Arrests and Court-Martial, ----- 232 


Fighting Joe in Command— Burnside Relieved— A Gallant Leader— 
Into the 3d Corps— Good Bye 5th — Whipple and Sickles — General 
Training— Eight Day's Rations— " Finest on the Planet "— Chan- 
cellorsville Campaign— Those Climbers— Fitz Hugh Crossing- 
Rainy Weather— United States Ford— Reb Prisoners—" Them Sharp 
Fellows" — Close Picket — Two Spies — Water and Mud— Cased 
Shot and Canister — Little Rest on Wet Ground — Supporting a 
Battery — Out in Front — Enemy Driven Back — Sharp Duelling — 
Individual Exchanges — Lucky Sharpshooters — Suffering Supports 
Birney's Division, ----- 244 

The Cedars— Successful Shirmishing— A Brisk Fight— White Flag— 
Capt. Chase Shot — "Secesh Firing"— Jackson's Wagons — Wealthy 
Fredericksburger — Recruit's Capture — Welford's Furnace — Sixty 
Sharps Rifles— Huddling Johnnies— Trapped— 23d Georgia— Capt. 
Baker's Command — Lieutenant Thorp — Sickles Credits Sharp- 
shooters—No Lazy Provost could Fool Him— Humane Acts by 
Worthy Comrades — Galloway's Escape — Regular Officer on Sharp- 
shooters — Fine Tactics of Skirmishers — Of the Best of Organiza- 
tions of Volunteer Service— Jackson's Flanking Column— The 
11th Corps — Disorderly Retreat — 26th Wisconsin — Stout Resist- 
ance — 58th and 119th New York — Carl Schurz — Confusion Con- 

CONTENTS. x iii 

founded— Jackson's Wedge of Cold Steel— His Last Victory- 
Sickles and IMeasanton— Their Gallant Resistance— Our Cavalry— 
8th Pennsylvania— Brilliant Service, Fearlul Loss— Major Huey— 
Sickles* Description— Pleasanton's Report— Berry's Division— Gen. 
Knipe's Story— Hancock and Miles— The Hero of Chancellorsville 
—Death of Stonewall Jackson, 248 

Sunday's Fight— Fairview— Sickles' Brigade— The Crash— Yells of Gray 
Cheers of Blue— Gritty Corporal— Picking Off Gunners— Reb Bui- 
lets in Front— Union Cannon in Rear— Dr. Brennan— "Stop those 
Guns 'til I get the Wounded away "—Sharpshooter Charge— Stone- 
wall Brigade Driven— Death of " Rough"— Raging Fires— Unfortu- 
nate Wounded— Burned and Suffocated— Sharpshooter Captures— 
Capt. Wilson's Command — Skirmishers Alignment— Prominent 
Officers Pass Judgment on Sharpshooter Service— Major Hastings 
— Union Artillerists— Other Reports— Hooker's Danger— Chancellor 
House— Narrow Escape-Sickles' Efforts Unsupported— Three Corps 

Idle— Opportunity Lost— Hooker's Name and Skill, 261 

Snapshooting and Skirmishing— May 4th— Shelling Union Train- 
Gen. Whipple Killed— Berdan's Line— Adjutant Horton— Wounded 
and Last Appearance— Second Regiment on Picket Lines— Sedg- 
wick's Success and Failure— Great Loss— Buchanan and Nelson's 
Scout— The Isolated Skirmisher— 17 Hours Swamp Duty— Moves 
and Feints— Griffin's Duel— Soaking Rain— Fall Back!— Re-Cross 
Rappahannock— 1st Corps— Not In It— Hard Fought and Disas- 
trous Battles-Enormous Casualty— Patriotic Test-Brave Brewer 
—Gallant Chase— The "Fighting Parson"— Practices What He 
Preaches— Back to Camp— En Route— Weary and Dejected— Ban- 
tering Jests and Greetings— Cheering Troops— "Full Moon" Corps 
—Iron Brigade— Last War Path— Downcast and Gloomy Pros- 
pects—Boys in Blue— Spirits Revived— Hooker's "Congratulatory'* 
—Patriotism Knocks Demoralization— Preparing for Another 
Move— Hooker Kept Busy— Pleasanton's Cavalry— Lee W'orking 
North— Lincoln to Hooker— The Gored Ox— Music in the Air, - - 269 


Pennsylvania Invasion— The Two Regiments— Ward's Brigade— Miles 
of Dust— Northward Bound— Hard Marching— Great Suffering— 
The Sun's Heat— Debilitated and Sunstruck— Kilpatrick at Aldie— 
Hooker's Love for Good Soldiers— Proud of His Cavalr}-— Impor- 
tant Dashes— Lee to Raid the North— Pushing Along the Shenan- 
doah— Bold Invasion of Free Soil— Union Army Moving— Cross 
into Maryland— Up Towards Pennsylvania— Hooker's Surprise- 
Resigns the Command— Hooker and Halleck— Love Not— Meade 
in the Saddle— The Last Commander of the Army of the Potomac, 282 


Gettysburg — First Day — Buford's Cavalry — Our Batteries — Cashtown 
Road — Gen. Reynolds — Killed at the Front — 1st Corps — Great 
Fighting — 11th Corps — Gen. Schurz — Howard in Command — Sem- 
inary Hill — Gen. Doubleday — Gettysburg "Painted Red" — A Gory 
Picture — Telling Johnnies — Shouting Yanks — 45th New York 
— Awful Scene — Capt. Wood — Doomed Horse — Serious Losses in 
Iron Brigade — Also the 1st Corps — Private Maloney— John Burns — 
"His Long Brown Rifle" — And " Bell-Crowned Hat" — Honor and 
Glory to Our Cavalry— An All-Day Fight— Hancock's Arrival- 
Disposition of Troops — His Battle Line — Position of the Enemy — 
Union Corps Coming Up, ---------------- 286 

Gettysburg— Second Day— Third Corps— Sharpshooters to the Front— 
Reconnoissance — Pitzer's Run — The Turning Point vs. High Water 
Mark — Longstreet's Thousands — Berdan's Three Hundred — Subse- 
quent Acknowledgment— Sergt. Drew— Saving Round Tops— Capt. 
McLean — Wounded and Died — Buchanan's Oration — Kipp's State- 
ment — Allen's Dilemma — "Ye Blatherin Divil" — Not Shot — Eugene 
Paine — Gilman K. Crowell — Trepp and Baker — Two Nichols — 
Emmitsburg Road— Gen. Sickles' Line— Terrific Assault— 3d Corps 
Suffers— Officers and Men Alike— Life for the Union— Heroic Dan 
Sickles — Severely Wounded— Various Organizations — Suffering 
Artillery — Stannard's Vermonters — 1st Minnesota — The Round 
Tops — Ward's Brigade — Piercing, Frenzied Shouts — Mozart's Regi- 
ment — Gen. Warren — Col. Vincent — Second Sharpshooters Under 
Col. Stoughton— Gallant Resistance— Important Service— Check- 
ing the Rebels — Confederate Commander's Admission — Saving Lit- 
tle Round Top— Col. Oates— The Hornet's Nest— Harvest of the 
Slain, 301 

Gettysburg— Third Day— 12th Corps— Obstinate Fighting— Geary's 
Report— Ominous Silence— Galling Cannonade— Heaviest Known 
—Lee Fooled— Pickett's Charge— Terrible to Contemplate— "Amaze 
and Terror Seize the Rebel Host"— Driven Back Dismayed— Vic- 
tory for the Union— Incidents— Stoughton and Stannard— Willard 
the Sharpshooter— Proctor's Contribution— Company B— Lieut. 
Cushing — Hancock Wounded — Gibbon and Doubleday— Rebel 
Divisions— Routed Complete— 8th Ohio— Newton and Birney— Wel- 
lington Fitch, - 330 

Devil's Den— Sharpshooter Detail— Sorry Johnnies— Tyler's Assurance 
—Happy Prisoners— Gallant Sortie— Danger in the Rear— Com- 
pany G and the Rebel Brigade— Captured with Colors— July 4th— 
More Quiet— Peach Orchard— Burying Dead— Stoughton's Regi- 
ment—Driving the Enemy— Positions Taken, Held— July 5th— 
Rebels Retreat — Sharpshooters Forward to Reconnoiter— Both 


Sides Lose Heavily — Meade's Statement — Longstreet — Sharp- 
shooter Ammunition— Dark Green Cloud— Excitement North— Wild 
with Joy— Great, Glorious Field of Gettysburg— After Lee— Shabby 
Treatment— Rebs at Williamsport— Second Chafing for a Fight- 
Back to Virginia — No More Northern Raids — Fairfield Pass— 
Meade's Report— Wapping Heigh ts— Ad vancing Under Fire — Excel- 
sior Brigade— Little Bluffer— Exhausting March— Sunstruck Sol- 
diers—Rich Plunder Recaptured— A Pioneer— Sulphur Springs- 
Fifty Days Campaign— Changes in Rank, 339 


Racing With Lee— Off for Culpeper— Turkey Foragers— Good 
Story— 2d Sharpshooters— Union Telegraph— Log Cabins— The 
" Rogue's March " — Romeo Wilson — The Long Roll — Northward 
Again— Parallel Lines— Rebs and Yanks— Rapidan to Bull Run — 
Good Roads— Fast Traveling —Fording Streams — Kilpatrick's 
Charge — Auburn— The Sharpshooter Charge —Breech- Loading 
Advantages — Repulse of Gray Jackets and Butternuts — Greenwich 
—Forced March— Warren's Corps— Lee Detained— Blackburn's 
Ford— Centreville Heights— 2d Corps Fight— Fairfax— 3d Corps 
in Line— Gen. Sickles' Visit— Fate of a Deserter— "In the Lowest 
Deep "—Hard Tack— Marble and Trepp— Worms vs. Bugs— Uncle 
Sam's Rations—" Them B.C. 's," 354 

Bull Run to Rapidan— The Shrill Bugle— 0. & A. Railway— Manassas 
Plains— Puckery Persimmons— Wading Runs— Rebel Rail Twisters 
— Union Repairs— Foiled if Not Fooled— The Last Chance— Future 
Breastworks— Rain in Torrents— Leaky Shelters— Fight Rather 
than Drill— Election Day — Voting on the Picket Line— Union 
Ticket— Kelly's Ford— A Sharpshooter Victory— Charging the 
River— Capturing Rifle Pits— Many Prisoners— Narrow Escapes — 
Brave Acts— Lieut. Wells— A Double-Shotted Johnny— Exciting 
Incidents— Far in Advance— Infantry in Reserve— Receive Prison- 
ers—Premonition—Fatal Result— Allen's Yarn— The Virginia Chim- 
ney— An Exploded Supper— Rebs Go South— Rappahannock Sta- 
tion— Meade's Compliments— French to the Boys— Gen. DeTrobri- 
and— Second Regiment— Brandy Station— Quick Victory— Flying 
Foes— Brandy Plains— Grand View— Corps Flags— All on Time— 
Meade's Ability— Army United— John Minor Botts— Surprised Con 
federates— Abandoning Snug Winter Quarters— In Hurried Con- 
fusion— " More Like a Drove of Sheep than Men," 364 



Mine Run Campaign — Winter Foray — Cold Weather — Battle of Locust 
Grove — Tough Action — Sharpshooters Catch It — But Flinch? 
Never!— Lieut. Connington— Egan's Brigade— Charges and 
Denials — Meade, French and Warren — Unsatisfactory Outcome 
— 3d Corps — Only Ones "In It" — Except Gregg's Cavalry — They 
Whip Infantry, after Driving Rebel Cavalry, 378 

Mine Run — Big Fizzle — No Fault of Sharpshooters — The}' Are On 
Hand — Enerr^-'s Works — Assault Abandoned — Death of Col. Trepp 
— A Great Loss — Marble in Command — Chaplain Barber — His Last 
Shot — Provisional Brigade — Orders to Withdraw — Another Tough 
March— Tired Soldiers— "Four Miles to Brandy"— Botts' Farm- 
End of a Tough Campaign — Winter Quarters — Bott's Timber — G. 
K. Crowell's View — Breaking Camp — Near Culpeper "Camp Bul- 
lock" — Virginia Honey — Re Enlistments — The Veterans — Berdan 
Resigns — An Expedition — Morton's Ford — Little Fork Rangers — 
Picket Murder — Cavalry Skirmish — Mule Race— James City Raid — 
March Snowstorm— 6th Corps— Custer— Kilpatrick— Dahlgren— 
Slush and Mud — Incurable Exposures — Future Pension List — The 
Lieutenant-General— Consolidated Corps— The Diamond Badge- 
Major Mattocks — Another Camp — Marching Orders — Six Hour 
Drills— The Soldiers' Condition— Good for Rough Marches and 
Hard Fighting — How Hays became a Sharpshooter, ----- 385 


Under Grant— Hays' Brigade— In the Wilderness— Wilson Commands 
— Second Regiment Recapture a Cannon — Hancock's Corps — Hill 
Driven, Returns Reinforced— Capt. Buxton Killed— Death of 
Wadsworth — Longstreet Wounded — The Rebel Yell — The Blue and 
the Gray— Rebel Success— Grand Union Rally— The Counter Charge 
—Rebels Beaten— Sergt. Tarbell's Flag— "Close Calls"— Burnside's 
Promptness— Orange Road— That Jackass Battery— Fatal Spot 
—The Provost Guard— Forlorn Hopes— Guarding the Wood- 
Infernal Music — Vedettes in Front — Ominous Scene — Black Night — 
Hundreds of Silent Sleepers— Northern Pale Faces— Southern 
Chocolates — Sharpshooters Last to Leave the Wilderness — How 
men Fall in Battle— Sergt. Cobb's Rebel Friends— Down the Brock 
Road— "Swapping Guesses"— Going South— To "Fight it Out on 
That Line if it Took all Summer"— Light Hearts, Ready for the 
Worst— Crossed the Rapidan for the Last Time, 401 

Todd's Tavern— The Timbered Hill— Sharp Fighting— Lieut. Judkins 
Shot— Catharpin Road— Corbin's Bridge— Sharpshooters Skirmish 


—Rebel Bivouacs— Elevating Sights— Rebel Signaling— Whistling 
Sharps— Hancock Pleased— Fighting at Po River— Shelling Woods 
—Thick Dust— Sedgwick Killed— Brooke's Brigade— Forcing the 
Foe — Barlow's and Gibbon's men — Excelsiors — 5th Corps — Hot 
Fighting— 6th Corps— Stoughton Shot— Upton's Charge— Meade 
Shelled— Grant and His Cigar— Hancock's Report— Masked Bat- 
tery— Suffering Second— False Dispatches— Shallow Pits— Bayonets 
and Tin Plates— Killing Canteen Fillers— "Special Duty"— Night 
March— Wiry Rain— Fiery Shells— Stealthy Movement, - - - - 415 

Spottsylvania— Hancock's Charge— Rebel Salient— Great Captures— 
"You 'Uns and We 'Uns'' — Rebel Charges — Desperate Conflict — 
Terrible Destruction— "Piled Up"— The Battered Tree— Heart- 
rending Scenes— The Crowell Brothers— Annihilating Shells— Rain, 
Mud, Powder and Rust— Soldiers' Precaution— "Fire Low, Boys" 
— Drunken Officers — "Extinguished" — The Boys Didn't Weep — 
Patriotism vs. W'hisky— Active Work— Skirmishing and Charging 
—New Troops— "The Heavies"— Blankets and Overcoats,— Yours 
to Command— After the First Fight— Leaving Spottsylvania— On 
the Ny— Harris House— "To the Left" Again— Milford Station- 
Establishing Picket Lines— Chesterfield, 424 

The North Anna— Telescope Rifles— Pierce and Egan— Viall's Report- 
Stars and Stripes— Over the Bridge— Stevens' Detail— Rebel Huts- 
Johnnies Run Wild— Fox's House— Regimental Reserve — Hancock, 
Burnside, Birney and Crittenden— Narrow Escape— Searching 
Shells— Tjder's Knapsack— Thorp Resigns— Tyler Promoted— 
Drenching Rain— No Fight— Quartermaster Marden— Relieving 
Burnside-Guarding the Front-Wilson and Stevens-"On Picket" — * 
Recrossing to New Battle Scenes— The March Resumed— Cavalry 
Skirmish— Dead Horses— Crossing the Pamunkey— 8 Miles from 
Mechanicsville— Sergt. Eli Cook— His Battery Silencers— Shooting 
in the Muzzles— Protecting Passing Troops, 433 

The Totopotomoy— Rails in Front— Mortar Shells Overhead— Brooke's 
Charge— Swift Run— Captain Jack— Sharpshooters Advance— Run 
to the Front— Facing Severe Fire— Breckinridge's Troops— Dust- 
ing, Spattering Bullets— Close to the Enemy— Unarmed Captures 
— " Fresh Beef "—Billy Mahone— Aschmann's Goatee, 441 

Cold Harbor— Severe Battle— Sheridan First— Wright and Smith Next 
—Then Hancock and Others— Great Battle of June 3d— Barlow, 
Gibbon and Birney— Intrenched Enemy— Great Union Loss— Old 
Fighting Ground of '62— Knocked Flat, but "No Blood'— Rebel 
Charge— Disastrous to Them— The Retreating Horseman— Sharp- 


shooter Knocked Over — No time to Swear — Moving On— Trying 
Situations— Under Fire, 24 Days out of 31— Crossing the James- 
Barker's Mills — Punishing a Liheler — Over theChickahominy — The 
Old Field— Glendale— Wilcox Landing— McClellan's Old Ground— 
The James and Appomattox— Grant's Intentions, 443 

Siege of Petersburg— Unfortunate Mistake — A Coffee Breakfast— Not 
Even a Hard-Tack— Rifled Parrotts— Harrison's Creek— The 341b. 
Telescope — Death of James Heath— James Ragin Takes the Big 
Rifle — An Independent Character — Part}- of Scouts — Clothes 
Barked — Hundreds of Bullets — Macallister's Brigade — Flashing 
Guns — Rations after Fighting— June 17th — Barlow's Division — 
Preparing Intrenchments — Hot Work — 100 Rounds per Man — 
Dodging Rebel Bullets— 9th Corps— Daring Charge Fails— Fatal 
Corn Field— Final Success— 2d and 9th Corps Together— But Fear- 
ful Casualties— Death of Sergt. Major Jacobs— Under Arms All 
Night — Stray Bullets — A Diversion — Sergt. Major and Lieut. Buch- 
anan—Boys as Soldiers— " Buck " at 17— The Boys of '61-2— Aver- 
age Age — The Minimum Company — New Troops vs. Recruits — 
Miserable Policy in Vogue — Political Favorites Preferred to Vet- 
erans — The War Prolonged — Poor but Honest Soldiers Stand 
Aside for Wealthy and False Aristocracy, 449 

Siege of Petersburg — Hare's Farm — Noted Virginia Turfite — New- 
market Race Course— Disastrous Union Assault— Scattered Books 
and Papers — Carpeted Rifle Pit with Chairs ofMahogany — Emery 
Munsell and his 28 Pounder— Shooting at the Petersburg Express 
— Andrews and Stevens — A Simple Breakfast — Hard-Tack, Coffee 
and Reb Bullets— Short-RangeMarksmanship-Incidentals-Choked 
on Cornbread— James Ragin the Telescope Shot — Interchange of 
Leaden Compliments— Close Work at Long Range— Ragin 
"Barked" — A "Shut Up" Johnny — Desperate Duelling— Johnny 
Reb's Last Shot — "Yankee Sharpshooters" — Breech-loaders and 
Forced Balls— A Confederate Story— Sharpshooters Relieved— On 
Towards Weldon Railroad — Rough Woods — Tangled Brush — 2d 
and 6th Corps, 456 

Siege of Petersburg— Jerusalem Plank Road — Stoughton Captured — 
Flanked by the Enemy— Loss of Works and Artillery— Positions 
Retaken— Three Sharpshooter Companies " In the Soup," to Their 
Loss — Eleven Michigan Men Facing 4 Rebel Cannon — The Artillery 
Knocked Out for a Half-hour — Circumvention — Sharpshooters Cut 
Off— Six Escape— Reduced Membership— The Casualties of War — 
Generals on the Look-Out — Sharpshooters Sent to Front — Down 
an Open Field— Rebel Musketry— Union Charge— Careless Infantry 


—Shooting Everyway— Up, Down and Sideways— Fire in the 
Rear Causes Sharpshooters to Yell Back at the Infernal Fools — 
Hancock's Order Raking the 2d Corps— But Not the Old (Veterans) 
Second Corps— The Chimneys— Rebel Artillerists— Sharpshooters 
in Rifle Pits Silence Their Cannon— Corporal Kirkham— Ragin and 
the Artillery Officer— Skill in Long Range Shooting— Scared Officer 
with Red Face— Picket and Fatigue Duties— 2d Corps Moves- 
Cross the Appomattox— Torch-lit Forest— Novel Scene— Whole 
Column a Torch-light Procession— Cross James River— Scattered 
Troops Come Together, 464 

Siege of Petersburg— Deep Bottom— Our Batteries— Strawberry Plains 
—Recaptured Union Guns— Skirmishing the Flanks— Gun-boat Men- 
dota— 100-pounders— Our Cavalry— Mott's Division— Quiet With- 
drawal—Before Petersburg— Grant's Diversion— Lee's Alertness — 
Grant Visits Sharpshooters— Relieve 19th Wisconsin— Over Brushy 
Breastworks— Night Work— Picketing the Front— In Rifle Pits- 
Enemy Close By— Fort Clifton— Exciting Night— The Fatal Mor- 
row—The Watchful Sentinels— Burnside's Mine — Descriptive Pre- 
liminary—Terrific Explosion— And Yet, a Failure— Fatal Crater — 
Terror-stricken Rebels— Entrapped Unionists— Hand to Hand — 
Thundering Cannon— Fort Clifton's " Whitworth's "—Bomb- 
proofs— Ragin Crippled— Fred Johnson— In Reserve— Confederate 
Mine— To City Point—" Where are we Going ? "—Guesses in Order 
—Down Stream— Up Stream— Landing at Deep Bottom— Lee's 
Flanks— Sheridan and Early— 10th Corps, 473 

Deep Run — Long Skirmish — Sharpshooters, Cavalry and Infantry — 
Rebel Line Steadily Driven— Capt. Aschmann Falls— Heavy Slashing 
—Severe Fighting— Negro Troops— Andrews and Tyler— Col. Craig 
—Special Duty— Birney's Praise — 1st Sharpshooters Last Action 
as a Regiment— Fort Hell— Close Pickets— Amicable Agreements- 
Sharp Fight — 40 Prisoners— Warren on Weldon Road— Hancock 
at Ream's— 3 Batteries Lost— Bounty Jumpers— Sharpshooters 
Breaking Up— Behipd Breastworks— Stevens' Mule — The Army 
Mule— Heavy Cannonading— Friendly Pickets— Tobacco and Cof- 
fee—Rebel Desertions— Alabamians— News of Little Mac's Nomi- 
nation in Richmond Sentinel — Proclamations — Lincoln's and 
Grant's— Johnny Tricks a Yank— Army Railway— Atlanta Salute 
—Net Work of Flashes and Fire— Night Charge of 1st Brigade- 
Enemy Surprised— Second Sharpshooters in the Assault— Firing- 
Ceases— Rebs and Yanks Come Out of Their Holes— The Warning 
Note— "Look Out! Yank! "—Firing Resumed— Capturing a Well — 
Butler's Salute— Muster Out by Companies— The Consolidated 
Battalion— Other Engagements— Hatcher's Run— Boydton Road— 


WeldonRoad— Berner of "B"— Unequal Wounds and Deaths— Com- 
pany I Ambushed — Desperate Struggle — Another Mine Fizzle — Com- 
pleted History — Losses Compared— Fox's Report — The Unique Reg- 
iments of the War — Berdan'sU. S. Sharpshooters — DeTrobriand's 
Valedictory — C. N. Race — Our Youngest Member, 482 

1865— Last Campaign— Final Struggle— Sherman's March— Sheridan 
and the Shenandoah — Lee Uneasy — Tries to Join Johnston — Grant 
Prevents It — Grant and Lee Play Sharp — Lee's Assault — Fort 
Steadman — Gen. Parke — Confederates Whipped — Lincoln There — 
Army of the Potomac Moves — Sheridan's Movement — Lee Check- 
mated — Withdraws from Petersburg — White Oak Road — Warren's 
Fight — Varying Success — Dinwiddie Court House — Battle of Five 
Forks — Sheridan's Preparations — Warren's Assault — Confederate's 
Great Losses — Grant's Order — Morning of April 2d — "Business"for 
the Yanks — Desperation for the Johnnes— The 9th Corps — Shelling 
Petersburg — Lee's Consternation— Rebel Gen. Hill — Ambushed and 
Lost— Rebels Divided— Their Flying Right Wing— Routed by the 
2d Corps — Sheridan on Their Flank — Lee's Retreat — Richmond 
and Petersburg Evacuated — Union Soldiers Take Possession — Con- 
federates Hurry Off— Grant After Them— Sailor's Creek— Hard- 
Pressed Confederates — Custer's Cavalry — Gen. Gordon Reeonnoi- 
ters— Blocked by Sheridan— Flag of Truce— Appomattox Court 
House — Lee Surrenders — Grant's Magnanimit}-- — Lenient Terms — 
Johnston Surrenders to Sherman — Grant to the Army of the Poto- 
mac — Compliments to Meade, -------- 501 

Regimental Statistics, 512 

Roster of Officers, 513 


James Winchell's Prison Experience, 519 

Biographical Sketches, ..-. 526 

Gettysburg Ceremonies and Monuments, ------- 543 

Mrs. Dorr's Poem, - 551 


Munson's Hill, 
Big Bethel, 
Howard's Bridge, 
Yorktown Battle, 
Yorktown Siege, 
Warwick River, 
Kinney's Farm, 
Peake's Station, 
Chickahominy Swamp, 
Gaines' Mill, 
Garnett's Farm, 
Golding's Farm, 
Bottom's Bridge, 
Allen's Farm, 
Savage Station, 
White Oak Swamp, 
Malvern Hill, 
Orange Court House, 
Guineys' Station, 
Rappahannock Station, 
Sulphur Springs, 
Dawkin's Branch, 
Centreville Road, 
South Mountain, 


Blackford's Ford, 
Ellis' Ford, 
The Cedars, 
Pitzer's Run, 
Wapping Heights, 
Kelly's Ford, 
Brandy Station, 
Locust Grove, 
Mine Run, 
Orange Road, 
Todd's Tavern, 
Po River, 
Harris House, 
North Anna, 
Cold Harbor, 
Harrison's Creek, 
Hare's Farm, 
Jerusalem Plank Road, 
Deep Bottom, 
Burnslde's Mine, 
Deep Run, 
Hatcher's Run, 
Boydton Road, 
Weldon Road, 
Fort Hell, 
s Station. 



1. California Joe, Cover. 

2. Chancellorsville, - Frontispiece. 

3. Gen. Berdan, 2 

4. Col. Mears, - 6 

5. Col. Post, - - - 28 

6. Eugene Paine, ----------- 36 

7. Gen. Ripley, 41 

8. Col. Berdan and California Joe, 49 

9. James Winchell, ----67 

10. Hon. H. J. Peck, 90 

11. Gaines Mill, - 110 

12. Hon. Thomas McCaul, 119 

13. Sergt. Staples, - - - - 133 

14. Sharpshooting at Malvern, ..------ 145 

15. Hon. Daniel Perry, 152 

16. Col. Peteler, 162 

17. Major Albee, 190 

18. Adjt. Parmelee, 204 

19. A. S. Isham, 210 

20. W. M. Isham, 210 

21. Col. Stoughton, 225 

22. Capt. Baker, 251 

23. Capt. Chase, 275 

24. Lewis J. Allen, 311 

25. Eli Cook, 311 

26. John T. Schermerhom, 344 

27. Co. B Bummers (4), 354 

28. Sharpshooters' Charge, 359 

29. Major Shreve, 375 

30. Cavalry Charge, 384 

31. Chaplain Barber, 388 

32. Capt. Marble, 392 

33. Gilman K. Crowell, 427 

34. Capt. Richard W. Tyler, 437 

35. Capt. "Jack" Wilson, 442 


36. Philip E. Sands, 449 

37. John W. Kenny, 449 

38. Major Buchanan, --------... 454 

39. Telescope Rifle, 460 

40. Capt. Hetherington, 468 

41. Broken Sword, ---------.__ 469 

42. Your Historian, ............ 511 

43. Amputated Prisoner, .......... 522 

44. New York Monument, ......... 543 

45. New Hampshire Monument, ------... 545 

46. Wisconsin Monument, --.----.. 548 

47. Hornets' Nest Monument, --.-..... 559 

48. Vermont (1st Regt.) Monument, 555 

Curtis Abbott, C. W. Peck, Cassius Peck, Capt. Merriman, 
Gen. Ripley, Silas Giddings, Edward F.Jordan. 

United States Sharpshooters 

In the Army of the Potomac. 

The enlistment of volunteers for the Union army during 
the summer of 1861, was carried on with a patriotic vigor 
that fully attested the loyalty of the North, and was a ready 
response to President Lincoln's second call ( May 3d ). This 
time it was for three years' service, it having been clearly 
demonstrated not only to the President, but to the entire 
North, that it was useless to attempt to put down the Rebel- 
lion, now a determined fact, and extending o\ er so large an 
extent of country comprised in the southern states, with a 
force of 75,000 men first called out — and for three months 
only. It was a momentous era in American history — the 
life-struggle of the nation. Everybody realized the danger, 
every one saw the necessity of promptly meeting it. The 
farmer, the merchant, the laborer, the rich and the poor, old 
men and young men were alike affected; their mothers, wives, 
daughters, sisters urging them on, their tears mingled with 
their prayers — prayers for the volunteers, for the Union 
cause. So earnest had the people become, now that war was 
inevitable to save the Union, and to put down forever this 
scheme of secession, that more than double the number asked 
for had enlisted and been accepted, so that in two months' time 


the war office in Washington reported 190, 000 troops enrolled 
besides the three-months men whose time would soon expire. 
But while this great force had a cheering look in print, it 
was far above the actual number that could be armed and 
equipped. The government was not prepared for so man\ ; 
there were not guns enough to go around, and it took time 
to furnish them. In this respect the Southerners had the 
advantage, as they had seized all our arsenals ■within their 
limits, and were therefore well supplied in this all-important 
matter. The only gun factory the government could rely on 
was at Springfield, and they were unable to meet the 
requirements, so that it was a long time before this increased 
force could be made ready for the field. 


It was during this time that this organization was 
-commenced, on the proposition of Hiram Berdan of New 
York, and which was to be composed of companies of 
picked men from the loyal states. The purpose being to 
bring together the best marksmen possible of the North, 
and to arm them with the most reliable rifle made. With 
such men so armed and thoroughly equipped, it was believed 
that in the line of special service — that of sharpshooting 
and skirmishing — they would become invaluable to the 
Union cause. 

The proposal of Col. Berdan having been accepted by 
the government, printed circulars were issued by the adjutant- 
generals of different states calling for companies of Sharp- 
shooters, and setting forth the terms on which candidates 
for admission would be accepted, and wherein it was ordered 
that: "no man be accepted who cannot, at 200 yards, put 
10 consecutive shots in a target, the average distance not 
to exceed five inches from the center of the bullse\'e." Or, in 
other words, the string measurement of the 10 shots should 
not exceed 50 inches. Each man was allowed to choose 



his own rifle, but must justify his selection by the performance 
of the weapon in his own hands; and for each rifle furnished 
and accepted, $60 was to be paid therefor, thus insuring 
the best arms that could be purchased. Many, hovyever, 
did not avail themselves of this offer, preferring to let the 
government furnish them. 

Berdan's proposition was accepted by the Secretary of 
War, June 15, 1861, as follows: 

The regiment within named is accepted, in accordance 
with the within proposal, provided the said regiment sh all- 
be mustered into service within ninety days of this date. 
The first detachment to be mustered in within twenty days, 
and so one detachment after another, as the War Depart- 
ment may order. And provided, also, that said regiment 
shall come into service armed and equipped, without expense 
to the government. [Signed] Simon Cameron, 

Secretary of War. 

The project received the following recommendation from 
General Winfield Scott: 

Headquarters of the Army, 
Washington, D. C, June 14, 1861. 
H. Berdan, Esq., 

Dear Sir: — The General-in-Chief, under the reference to 
him of the subject of Sharpshooters, by His Excellency, the 
President, and Hon. Secretary of War, as set forth in your 
letter of June 13, 1861, desires me to say he was very favor- 
ably impressed with you personally; that a regiment of 
such Sharpshooters as are proposed by you, and instructed 
according to your system, would be of great value, and 
could be advantageously employed by him in the public 
service. Respectfully yours, 

Schuyler Hamilton, 
Lieutenant-Colonel and Military Secretary. 

In all the test shooting required before admission there 
was naturally some fine marksmanship developed, and among 
the best was that of Charles H.Townsend, at Camp Randall, 
Wis., who fired five shots at 200 Yards with a total meas- 


urement of three and three-quarter inches; while, on the 
target grounds of the different states, two inches to a shot 
was frequently the average. But it was not always an 
easy matter to come up to the standard, and many, failing, 
were thrown out. 

The rendezvous was established at Weehawken, opposite 
New York City, to which place most of the companies were 
at first ordered, but on or about the 24th of September 
proceeded to Washington, where they went into Camp 
of Instruction. With the required number of companies 
arriving at the Washington camp during the fall and win- 
ter, the First Regiment* was completed, with over 1,000 
men, representing five states, as follows: 

A, New York, Capt. Casper Trepp. 

B, New York, Capt. Stephen Martin. 

C, Michigan, Capt. Benj. Duesler. 

D,f New York, Capt. Geo. S. Tuckerman. . 

E, New Hampshire, Capt. Amos B. Jones. 

F, Vermont, Capt. Edmund Weston. 

G, Wisconsin, Capt. Edward Drew. 
H, New York, Capt. Geo. G. Hastings. 
I, Michigan, Capt. A. M. Willett. 
K,f Michigan, Capt. S. J. Mather. 

The Second Regiment,$ Col. Post commanding, came in 
later, encamped next to the First, and consisted of eight 
companies, representing the following states : 

A, Minnesota, Capt. Francis Peteler. 

B, Michigan, Capt. Andrew B. Stuart. 

•First Regiment.— No written authority to raise this regiment is found, but it 
would seem that such was given, as on July 30, 1861, Col. Berdan was notified 
that officers "are ordered to muster your regiment into service provided you do 
not present more than ten companies, which is the number for a regiment."— 
Memorandum Sketch, Adjutant General's Office. 

Df. arrived Jan. 3. '62. K, March, '62, after regiment had left, joining us at 

±Second Regiment.— This regiment was raised under authority from the 
Secretary of War to Col. Berdan "to muster and organize into companies and 
resriments all the men he could raise during the next 90 days from Sept. 28, 1861, 
and who, on examination, were found equal to the requirements of sharpshooters." 
— Memorandum Sketch Adjutant General's Office. 


C, Pennsylvania, Capt. John W. Dewey. 

D, . A A .line, Capt. James D. Fessendcn. 

E, Vermont, Capt. Homer R. Stoughton. 

F, New Hampshire, Capt. Henry M. Caldwell. 

G, New Hampshire, Capt. William D. McPherson. 
H, Vermont, Capt. Gilbert Hart. 

Oar uniform was of fine material, consisting of dark 
green coat and cap with black plume, light blue trowsers 
(afterward exchanged for green ones) and leather leggins, 
presenting a striking contrast to the regular blue of the 
infantry. The knapsack was of hair-covered calfskin, with 
cooking kit attached, considered the best in use, as it was 
the handsomest, most durable and complete. By our dress 
were we known far and wide, and the appellation of "Green 
Coats," was soon acquired. When fully uniformed and 
equipped, the Sharpshooters made a very handsome appear- 
ance, more so upon the whole than many others. 

We wore for a time, principally on outpost duty or in 
bad weather, what were called "Havelocks," a gray, round 
hat with wide, black visor, good enough around Washing- 
ton far within the lines, but after our first appearance before 
the enemy the following spring, they were discarded as 
endangering a fire from the rear. Certain gray felt, seamless 
overcoats were likewise abandoned, although they were 
good rain shedders, only they became when wet stiff as a 

The Camp of Instruction w^as organized for the purpose 
of drilling and disciplining the vast army of raw volunteers 
— to mould the citizen into the soldier. The formation of 
this camp was intrusted to Gen. McClellan, who was called 
to the general command from the field of his victories in 
western Virginia, which in two months' time made West Vir- 
ginia a loyal state. 

The time was occupied in camp in target practice, learn- 
ing the company drill and battalion movements, guard, 


patrol, and camp duties; and, tinder the instruction of 
Lieut. Mears, U. S. A., lieutenant-colonel of the regiment, 
they were soon able to execute the most difficult regimental 
drills, and were probably unexcelled therein by any other 
regiment, particularly in skirmishing, a service they were 
destined to perform at the front, in all the great battles of 
the Army of the Potomac up to the time of their expiration 
of service. 

In the target practice, a matter of the greatest impor- 
tance, many excellent scores were made, and under the su- 
pervision of Col. Berdan great improvement was made in 
their marksmanship; the colonel, himself a noted sharp- 
shooter, putting himself to the test on many occasions, 
before multitudes of people. One of his targets was erected 
at a distance of 600 yards, in which he frequently put five 
consecutive shots within the 10-inch ring, using the telescope 
rifle. These telescopes were powerful magnifiers, so much so 
that a small object, not distinguishable to the naked eve, 
could be seen at along distance. But the cross-wires within 
tremble so easily, that it requires a steady hand to hold the 
cross on the mark, from the shoulder in off-hand shooting. 
However, as the telescopic rifles used by the Sharpshooters 
were generally very heavy — from 15 to 30 pounds — they 
were mostly shot from a rest; in fact, were generally used 
for long-range shooting. But two companies of the regi- 
ment — C, of Michigan, and E, of New Hampshire — were fully 
armed, having target rifles of different descriptions. The 
Vermont company also had a few guns. The balance of the 
regiment were unarmed and waiting for the Sharps improved 
rifle, military pattern, wnich had been promised. This was 
their choice of all the many kinds presented, manufacturers 
of all sorts of new guns constantly offering the same for 
trial and acceptance. Besides this, the chief of the ordnance 
department was very anxious to have the regiment armed 
with the muzzle-loading Springfield, then the established 

i.^.e/^^r-/^ _ /{,i-. 

x/., .^HL/su'fcSfStSf 

Colonel 4th U. S. Infantry. 
Died at Fort Sherman, Idaho, Jan. 2, 1892. 


arm of the United States infantry. As soon as the govern- 
ment recognized the corps officially by mustering the First 
Regiment into service, Col. Berdan made a requisition for 
Sharps breech-loading rifles, which proved to be. according 
to Berdan, "a declaration of war." The newspapers of that 
date contained almost daily, statements of what Gen. Ripley 
chief of ordnance, had to say, or Gen. Scott, or the assistant 
secretary of war Thomas Scott, and Berdan had to fight the 
whole of them. They took the ground that there was no 
rifle equal to the Springfield for a soldier, except Gen. Ripley, 
who went so far as to say that he preferred the old smooth 
bore with "ball and buck." Gen. Scott, in his indorsement 
on the colonel's application, said : "Breech-loaders would 
spoil his command." The old veteran hero didn't live long 
enough to find out his mistake — to learn of the great revolu- 
tion going on in this method of improving guns, so soon to 
be demonstrated by the Sharpshooters after getting into 
the field. 

In consequence of this attempt to turn the Sharpshooters 
from their original purpose, and force on them the army 
musket, it was uncertain for a time whether the chosen 
breech-loaders would be furnished. But through the per- 
sistent efforts of Col. Berdan, an order was finally issued for 
their manufacture. The open-sighted Sharps rifle, using 
linen or "skin" cartridges, 52 caliber, conical ball, was the 
best breech-loading gun at that time made, a perfectly safe 
and reliable arm, combining accuracy with rapidity, just 
what a skirmish line needed for effective work. To their 
good judgment in choosing this rifle may be attributed 
their future success in the field, attaining as they did a repu- 
tation that eventually made the name of "Berdan Sharp- 
shooters" renowned in foreign lands as well as our own. 
The muzzle-loading target rifles— telescope and globe sights 
— while of great value before fortifications and for special 
work, would have been useless in skirmishing. 


The two companies — C and E — mentioned as being armed 
with target rifles, not only had an advantage over their 
comrades of the other companies in the important matter 
of target practice, but also were the first to experience a 
taste of active service, and it proved to them a rather hard 
one for the first introduction to the enemy. Leaving camp 
under orders to join Gen. Smith's expedition, on the 21st 
of September they marched to Fort Smith near Chain 
Bridge, thence forward to 


where they took part September 27th in an attack on a 
small force of the enemy, a foraging expedition, destroying 
and capturing a great portion of his supplies and defeating 
their cavalry. Here it was that the first shots of the Ber- 
dan Sharpshooters were fired at the secessionists, with good 
effect while the affair lasted. The march had been a hurried 
one and the soldiers were considerably fatigued, but obeyed 
the orders to advance with alacrity, performing the part 
assigned them in a manner that attracted the notice of the 
general commanding. George D. Sanford of Company C, 
was wounded. Having disposed of the enemy in their front, 
who made a hasty retreat, they moved forward in connection 
with the infantry in the direction of Falls Church, and again 
encountered the enemy at 


where they became engaged in a night fight — after midnight 
— on September 29th. It was a very unpleasant affair 
to the Sharpshooters, and they were extremely lucky to 
find, after daylight, they had but one man wounded, Sergt. 
George W. Brooks of Company E, hit in the leg. The 
honor of being the first Sharpshooters shot by the rebels 
belonged to Sanford and Brooks. As was very likely to 
happen in a fight after dark, particularly in a wooded 
country, our troops were exposed for a time to their own 


tire, owing to mistakes made by other regiments. Possibly 

a blunder, yet apparently an unavoidable occurrence from 
the way they were situated, being considerably tangled up 
in the black thickets. It was a good deal like "going it 
blind " in that affair, for want of proper guides or a correct 
understanding of the position of the enemy. Quite a loss 
occurred On our side in some of the regiments, particu- 
larly Col. Baker's California regiment and the 69th Penn- 
sylvania. But it resulted in Munson's Hill being evacuated 
by the enemy, an important point gained by the Union 
troops. When the Sharpshooters arrived back at camp, 
September 30th, after this rough campaign they were well 
satisfied to take a rest, and they got a good long one before- 
they moved again. 


During the splendid weather of the autumn months, 
visitors to the great Camp of Instruction, with which the 
city of Washington was environed, came in untold numbers; 
they were constantly crowding in, not only from our own 
mighty North, but from all civilized quarters of the world. 
And not the least of the many objects of interest to be noted 
was that of the rifle practice referred to. The newspapers 
at the time were full of these target trials, and the shooting 
of the Sharpshooters furnished items for a long while to the 
dailies and illustrated journals. 

On one- occasion the President, with Gen. McClellan, 
paid a visit to the camp, and were invited by Col. Berdan to 
the rifle range where shooting was going on. To show what 
the men could do in rifle-pits, a target representing two 
zouaves painted on canvass, was placed at a distance of 600 
yards. One hundred men with their heavy target-rifles, 
were placed in a pit, where each fired one shot. When the 
target was brought in, it was found that every shot had 
struck within the outline of the two figures. President 


Lincoln fired three shots from a globe-rifle belonging to H. 
J. Peck, of Company F, while Gen. AlcClellan and some 
others tried their skill with more or less success. Abraham 
Lincoln handled the rifle like a veteran marksman, in a highly 
successful manner, to the great delight of the many soldiers 
and civilians surrounding. Once, resting his gun on what 
he called a sapling, he said: "Boys, this reminds me of old- 
time shooting," when they waved their hats and cheered 
him. His visit aroused their slumbering patriotism. 

After which, Col. Berdan being called on, proceeded to 
execute some difficult shots, by knocking out the right eye 
of a zouave painted full length on half of an "A" tent, and 
which was done with a James telescope-rifle. He fired three 
shots, all easily found within the parts selected — the head, 
right breast, or the left thigh. Referring to this shooting 
afterward in connection with his efforts to get us properly 
armed, he said : 

"Then occurred one of those extraordinary accidents 
from -which great and beneficial result soften follow. Thomas 
Scott, the Assistant Secretary of War, thought to gain a 
point by attacking me personally, and asked me what I 
knew about guns and war that I should set up my opinion 
against all these officials, and ended by challenging me to 
fire, thinking doubtless, I would decline, or, if I accepted, to 
get the laugh on me by my making a bad shot. I at once 
accepted, and ordered the men to bring out a target ; the 
only one left was the figure of a single man, full size, with 
the words 'Jeff Davis' painted above his head. I remarked 
that I did not think it was exactly the thing to fire at Jeff 
Davis in the presence of the President of the United States. 
Mr. Lincoln laughed heartily and replied : 

" ' Oh, Colonel, if you make a good shot it will serve him 

"The target was set up and I called for the sergeant- 


major's rifle, which I knew to be correctly sighted for this 
distance. Thomas Scott then remarked: 

"'Now you must fire standing, for officers should not 
dirty their uniforms by getting into rifle pits.' 

"I replied: 'You are right, Colonel Scott, I always lire 
from the shoulder.' 

"I stepped forward and began to bring the gun to my 
face, when he said : 

" ' What point are you going to fire at ? ' 

"'The head,' I replied: 

" 'Fire at the right eye,' he shouted. I was then taking 
aim and made no reply, and it is hardly necessary for me to 
say, that at that distance — 600 yards — I did not aim at 
the eye, but I did fire at the head. The target was brought 
in, and as good luck would have it, I had cut out the pupil 
of the right eye. No man knew better than President 
Lincoln how to turn what he knew to be an accident to good 
account. He began to laugh, and kept on laughing until he 
got into his carriage and then said : 

" 'Colonel, come down to-morrow, and I will give you the 
order for the breech-loaders.' 

"Mr. Lincoln Tisited us once or twice later, and spoke of 
that 'remarkable shot' as a good joke — a lucky hit." 

Prize shooting was occasionally allowed, and usually 
created a healthy excitement among the men, as well as 
visitors who were sure to be there. One of the most impor- 
tant of these matches was held Thanksgiving afternoon 
(November 28th) between members of the target-rifle com- 
panies C, E and F, each man firing two shots off-hand at 
40 rods, the winner to receive $5, presented by the colonel. 
The day being fine there was a large attendance of public 
men and others w r ho came from town to "see the Sharp- 
shooters shoot;" the judges, Capt. Giroux of Company C, 
and Sergt. Stevens of Company G, awarded the prize to a 
Vermonter named Ai Brown, his two shots measuring four 


and one-quarter inches from the center. H. J. Peck of the 
same company, a prominent marksman, was a close second 
,in the match — almost a tie. Col. Berdan opened the pro- 
ceedings by firing two specimen shots, making a string of 
five and nine-sixteenths inches. Later on, other officers 
tried their skill, and among them Capt. Drew, who, borrow- 
ing a rifle, lay on his back and, resting the muzzle of the 
piece on the toe of his boot, fired four phots within the 10- 
inch ring at the usual 40-rods distance. This manner of 
shooting was somewhat novel, if not actually original, and 
became quite popular years after the war, when Creedmoor 
was established. It was very pleasing to the Wisconsin men, 
who with several other companies took no part in these, 
contests, having no guns and but little practice, and that 
only with such rifles as could be borrowed from the more 
fortunate ones. At anothertime a Michigan member proved 
the winner, his three 40-rod off-hand shots measuring six 
inches, an average of two inches to a shot. 


On one occasion a chicken shoot was arranged by a 
certain number of the men who could get passes to go out- 
side the camp line. During the progress of the affair, H. J. 
Peck, of Company F, appeared on the scene, and with his 
globe-sighted rifle — one of the best in the regiment — killed 
off most the chickens ; it began to be whispered around that 
he was an interloper, that he had no pass, therefore had no 
right there; so it was proposed to stop his further entries. 
But he produced a pass, and it was not until the match was 
over that it was found to be a forged one. Some of the 
party called it a good joke, but the sergeant in charge 
thought it was pretty tough, and even went, so far as to 

"d n a man who would shoot chickens on a forged 



The general routine of duty at the Camp of Instruction 
was as follows: The day began with "buglers' call" at 
d.i \ light, to be followed by ''reveille," and for miles around 
the Union capitol could be heard the bugles of rifle-men, 
artillery and cavalry, the shrill fife and drum of the infantry, 
making one continuous sound of soul-stirring music. It is 
simply grand to be in such a camp, and this was a monster 
camp in and around Washington, and listen to the reveille 
playing on all sides, on the color-line of each regiment, all 
going at once at fairly daylight. Then would the orderly- 
sergeants order their companies to "fall in for roll-call," 
Company A, C, G, etc. Every member was expected to turn 
out and take his place in the ranks, excepting the sick and 
those otherwise detailed. The company falls in, in two ranks 
facing outward — to the right — come to a "front," and to 
"attention to roll-call, "which is called in alphabetical order, 
usually by the last name; where there are more than one, or 
several of the same name, they frequently go by numbers, as 
instanced in the following story relating to a neighboring 
infantry regiment : 


A little stranger lieutenant having a detail of 10 men for 
special duty, called on a certain company and took their 
names. The men were in line at attention, when the officer 
began : 

"What's your name ? " "Smith." 
To the next man : "And what is yours?" "Smith." 
Down went the two on the list, Smith 1, Smith 2. 
"Well, what's yours? " "Smith." 
The officer began to look funny and grumbled out some- 
thing about the peculiarity of the thing ; then again : 

"What may I call your name, then ? " "Smith." 
This was getting to be too much of a good thing. The 
officer's face was getting red and his patience giving out. 
Four Smiths in succession ! He looked the men over : 


"Confound you, what do you mean?" 
But there the detail stood like so many heroic statues. 

"Well, blast it," and rushing up to No. 5, the excited 
officer fairly gasped : ' ' Your n - a - m - e ? " 

It was no use, however, the same prompt answer came, 
this time in deep stentorian tones, "Smith." 

This was too much for little shoulderstraps, and, break- 
ing down the street for the Orderly, he swore like a trooper, 
as he fancied it was a trick ; but could n't find the sergeant, 
and back he came in utter despair at the thought of being 
fooled, for he was an excitable little body, and his own men 
did n't like him. But the list must be made : 

" Well, then, for a change, what on earth is your name ? " 

The officer fairly jumped. Then he ripped and swore 
and jumped again; but there the statues stood, — old soldiers, 
— looking straight away, the regulation distance. By this 
time a crowd had gathered, and the officer began to cool 
down. So he hurried through: 

"And yours?" "Smith." 

"And next?" "Smith." 

"Je — yours?" "Smith." 

Here he broke again: "Great Scott! Here's nine 
Smiths in a row, and another man left. Guess they must 
grow up by the acre where this crowd came from. Well, 
yours, my man ? " to No. 10. 

" Aline, sir ! My name's Brown." 

" Good heavens ! What a relief. The Smith family is 
exhausted," and as the detail moved off the assembled 
crowd roared. 

After calling the roll, details were made by the Orderly, 
such as guard duty, police, water squad, etc., members dila- 
tory in turning out being put on these details; otherwise 
they were made up in regular order. For guard duty at 
this camp a sufficient number of muskets had been issued, 


The officer of the guard was generally a lieutenant, and the 
officer of the day was a captain or company commander, 
detailed by the adjutant. The guard detail, officers and 
men, were for 24 hours' service. After roll-call, streets were 
cleaned up, tents put in order, all before breakfast call. With 
us, the instructor required the company cooks, two in num- 
ber, who were located with fire, pots and kettles, at the foot 
of the company streets, to have coffee ready and served the 
first thing after roll-call, to guard against malaria in the 
winter weather, which this season was particularly damp 
and sickly, every precaution being taken to protect the 
health of the soldiers. At least that was the intention, but 
sometimes the best of intentions are spoiled by a too rigid 
discipline for appearance sake. For instance: The per- 
emptory order to have the tents in exact line, close to the 
ground, shaped and sized to present a general appearance — 
all alike. After they got into the field this rule was aban- 
doned, and the soldiers built their tents for comfort, wherein 
boards were used, fence rails and logs, the floor raised- from 
the ground and a better protection assured from colds and 
disease. This camp suffered severely from sickness and 
deaths, in consequence of the mistaken strictness of the 
disciplinarian as long as he remained; but after he left us, 
through the special efforts of Lieut. Col. Ripley, his successor, 
a general change in this respect was noticeable, concessions 
were made to comfort, and the soldiers had better privileges 
granted them in this important respect, really necessary to 
their health. It was all well enough during the fine fall weather 
to have the tents trim and in regulation style, but when 
winter set in, the rigid rule had to be relaxed, and the men 
allowed to fix up their quarters for comfort and not for 
show. The medical director of the Army of the Potomac, 
Chas. S. Tripler, in his report on the sanitary condition of 
the troops in the vicinity of Washington dated Jan. 28, 1S62, 
savs : 


"The Berdan Sharpshooters are also in a bad sanitary 
condition, and not improving. This camp, however, is badly 
located. I shall visit this brigade personally." He also 
recommended the building of "pens of logs and slabs the size 
of the base of the tents, some three feet high, and then to 
secure the tent upon this for a roof. * * * The camping 
ground of Berdan Sharpshooters I think should be changed. 
* * * Its drainage is bad. This regiment is suffering 
from measles, and lately severe lung complications have 
accompanied the disease. A fresh and dry camp, therefore, 
is in my opinion decidedly necesser}' for the command. If a 
suitable ground is selected and the tents put up the way I 
have suggested, I should look for favorable results." And 
on February 6th he reported further : " Measles, which seem 
to be scourging the whole amy of the United States, still 
break out from time to time in different regiments. Berdan 's 
Sharpshooters have been and are still severely affected with 
that disease. It is hoped that hospital and field arrange- 
ments already made and in progress will soon abate this 

The camping ground, however, was not removed. The 
report closes with a tabulated return, in which the Sharp- 
shooters are put down as follows : 

First Berdan Sharpshooters, mean strength, 745, total sick, 71. 

Second Berdan Sharpshooters, " " 720, " " 132. 

Brigade strength 1,465 

It was noticeable in this camp that considerably more 
sickness occurred among the American companies, than was 
the case in Company A, the Swiss and Germans. Their 
commander, Capt. Trepp, explained this in the manner of 
cooking their food. For while the Americans were great 
hands to fry everything,— fried pork, fried beef, fried hard- 
tack swimming in grease, — Trepp's men boiled their meats, 
and, with plenty of vegetables, made soups, rarely if ever, 
eating fried food. It was really forbidden. This, the cap- 


tain claimed, was the principal cause of their really small 
sick list The others understood this alter awhile, and 
resorted more to boiled food than formerly. 

Our calls were all made by the bugle. Each company 
had two buglers, and a regimental band was formed under 
the instruction of a chief bugler, in the First Regiment Calvin 
Morse of Company F; and they became sufficiently profi- 
cient to make very fair dress parade music, only occasion- 
ally the boys would get out of wind, and then there was a 
great gap in the notes. This caused a general te-heeing 
along the line, and the most scathing scowl of the instructor 
cotdd not prevent it. The bugles Were also used in the 
skirmish drill, both company and regimental, in accordance 
with the commands of the officer commanding. After 
breakfast, came sick call, which on the bugle sounded a 
good deal like singing: 

"I'm — sick! I'm — sick! 
Send for doctor, bring the nurse. 
I'm — sick! I'm — sick! 
Hurry doctor, I am worse — 
I'm — s-i-c-k! " 

About nine o'clock we had guard mounting, and which 
in good weather is an interesting service well worth witness- 
ing. Drills, company or regimental as it happened, occurred 
twice a day, and therein the Sharpshooters made a fine 
appearance, and, as Col. Ripley expressed it, became 
" wonderfully proficient." But we had a proficient instructor, 
and also apt and careful company officers. Among them 
may be mentioned Capt. Drew, who was thoroughly con- 
versant with the tactics before entering the service, and his 
company was very fortunate in having accepted him for 
their commander. He was not only very popular with 
them, but throughout the entire First Regiment. 

There were other calls going on through the day, such 
as "fatigue call" for working parties," officers' call," the 


"assembly," the "retreat" at sunset, "tattoo" at 9 p. m., 
and "taps "half an hour later, when lights were put out 
and all of the enlisted men not on duty abed or supposed to 
be. Toward the close of the afternoon before "retreat," 
weather permitting, dress parade was held. This was a 
popular feature of camp life, witnessed generally by many 
spectators, and really a grand performance. Here reports 
were made as to the condition of the companies, whether 
they were all "present or accounted for," orders were read 
by the adjutant, and inspections and reviews frequently 
occurred. How agreeable Col. Mears used to make it for 
a certain field officer who sometimes persisted in wearing 
white pantaloons when on duty, especially when some of his 
lady friends were present. Who would not like to have 
been sergeant-major in those days ? How pleasantly Mears 
used to ask for the whereabouts of that unfortunate gent ! 
The regimental orders signed "J. Smith Brown, Acting 
Adjutant," met with little favor at our hands. How beauti- 
fully he used to " about face ! " 

On Sundays we had, besides our regular cleaning up, 
Sunday morning inspections, which included dress, general 
appearance, packed knapsacks, etc. Also, during the forenoon 
church call brought the entire regiment, excepting those on 
duty, to the parade ground, where the chaplain officiated. 
In bad weather these duties and services were dispensed 

One feature introduced into the drill was the charging 
across the wide parade ground onto and over the high 
board fence of " Corcoran's grounds." Mr. Corcoran was a 
prominent and wealthy property holder living in the dis- 
trict. To climb this fence required a good jump and a 
secure hold on top. It was exercise that the feeble and 
sickly had no business with, but was a course of training 
very suitable for our service. At the command to advance 
as skirmishers, or to charge in close order, if the fence was in 


the way, it must be scaled, the men dashing forward there- 
after until summoned to halt or retreat, by bugle or other- 

A speck of trouble threatened the Sharpshooters because 
of the breaking away offence boards and the action of the 
military authorities thereon, as instanced in the following: 

Glenwood Cemetery, Feb. 4, 1862. 
Dear Sir: — I regret being again compelled to trouble 
you in relation to the Berdan Sharpshooters destroying the 
fence on the place. Since I wrote to you last the\r have refrained 
from troubling me much until the last four or five days 
when they commenced operations again, and yesterday 
made a decided attack. Will you be kind enough to send an 
orderly with the bearer, my son, to examine and report to 
you ? Also please send such message to the officers of the 
regiment as you think will prevent a recurrence of these 
depredations, and greatly oblige 

Yours very respectfully, 

G. Clendenin, Supt. 
To Gen'l A. Porter. 

This document was indorsed as follows : 

Respectfully forwarded to Headquarters Army of the 
Potomac. A. Porter, Provost Marshal. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 
Feb. 6, 1862. 
Respectfully referred to Col. Berdan with instructions to 
ascertain the names of the men who, in spite of orders, 
continue to commit depredations on the Glenwood Cemetery, 
and to confine them in the Guardhouse and prefer charges 
against them. The general commanding desires an example 
to be made of these reported and willful violations of his 
reiterated instructions. 

By command of Major General McClellan, 

Jas. A. Hardie, Lt.-Col. A. D. C. 

Whether anv of the fence-thieves were ever caught, or 
whether their names were ascertained, it is useless to ask 
at this late dav. When we left for the Peninsula, however, 


but little of trie cemetery fence remained in "good standing." 
Even Gen. McClellan was powerless to check the course of 
the Sharpshooters when they sought food and fuel. 

While the men were being steadily drilled in all the 
movements of the tactics, — excepting the manual, as arms 
were scarce, although that was practiced more or less by 
companies with a few guns, not as a regiment, — it must 
not be supposed it was all work and no play. For, besides 
the target practice, which was in itself an amusement, 
other diversions were indulged in of a nature to train them 
for arduous duty in active service, particularly in marching, 
destined to be often long and fatiguing. Therefore, foot 
ball, jumping, racing, wrestling, boxing and fencing, were 
prominent in the sports, which seemed also to keep up a 
good feeling among the men, and between the companies. 
It is worthy of record, also, that in this peculiar organization 
of companies from different states jealousy was unknown; 
on the contrary, they were like a band of brothers, imbued 
with the one feeling of patriotism in their voluntary 
enlistment for three years, unless sooner discharged. But 
few came from the same town, and but few were known 
to each other before enlistment. It was in many respects a 
remarkable organization. Not that all were as perfect as 
possible, or their behavior faultless ; for no such thing as a 
regiment or company, without fault-finding and discontent, 
without grumblers, or without their share of "sorry 
soldiers" ever existed. This is plainly in the course of 
nature, and in the volunteer service no one regiment was 
very much better than another in this respect. 

As a fair example, however, of the character of the 
men composing this organization, I give the following 
compliment paid the second and third Vermont companies 
by Col. Stoughton years after the war. First, he refers to 
the regardful act of the legislature of the state of Vermont, 
providing for a special allowance of seven dollars per month 


for their enlisted men, and then says: "About the 20th of 
November, the second company of Sharpshooters, number- 
ing, officers and men 91, started for Washington, to join the 
Second Regiment, where it became Company E. To go back 
to the trip to Washington, I must give the company as high 
a compliment as any they deserved during the war, and 
that is, upon arriving in New York City, on Peck Slip pier. 
25 East river, on the 'Elm City,' they marched up to Park 
Barracks where every soldier from New England remembers 
having once been, where they got their first real army 
fare, and, upon ascertaining they were to leave Jersey City 
at four o'clock that afternoon, they with one accord desired 
a pass to go out into the city, none of them having been in 
New York before. The captain, much to the astonishment 
of the regular army officer in command of the barracks, 
granted the passes with the promise that they should all 
return in time to march to the ferry. At the appointed 
time every officer and man was in line, which astonished 
the commander of the barracks as much as the granting of 
the passes had done in the morning, and with a single 
exception, not a man was intoxicated, and he was able to 
march to the train." The third company raised afterwards 
(H, of the Second), in which the colonel, then Capt. Stoughton, 
took part, " was another fine body of men, who were com- 
plimented both in New York and Philadelphia as they 
passed through those two cities." The Wisconsin company 
also proved their "bringing up," by taking in the city of 
New York, returning in time to receive their quota of loud- 
tasting bolognas furnished by the Dutch sutler, as they 
broke camp at Weehawken for Washington. They were a 
fine looking body of men, and so recognized by all who 
saw them. Thus did the West vie with the East. 

As showing how the boys amused themselves even at 
others' expense, I will give the experience of Company D, on 
their arrival in camp, Jan. 3, 1862. To go back to their 


starting point: This company was recruited in the fall of 
'61, from Chenango, Otsego, Herkimer and Oneida counties. 
New York. One would-be officer of the company- had 
worked hard for a commission, and was, in his own esti- 
mation, at least, better fitted for it than any of his com- 
rades. His modesty was not a candle to his merit. Before 
leaving Utica he had, in anticipation of his speedy promotion, 
gotten for himself an officer's outfit. His jaunty cap bore 
conspicuously in front the magical letters "U. S. S. S." As 
soon as the company reached Camp of Instruction, the 
unsympathizing veterans of the hillside thronged to welcome 
the tired recruits, greeting them on seeing these letters on 
their doughty champion's cap, with the shout: "Unfortu- 
nate Soldiers Sadly Sold." However time-worn this trans- 
lation of these cabalistic letters may have been to the vet- 
erans, it was novel although humiliating enough to the 
recruits, foot-sore and weary as they were, though excess- 
ively patriotic. , The company soon affiliated and were 
happy as could be with their comrades of the other com- 
panies. Their citizen's clothes were at a premium. They 
had no trouble in lending (?) what little money they had 
brought with them from home, to their promising neighbors, 
who gave them much advice, but little else for their gener- 
osity. What tricks their older comrades used to play upon 
them during their tours of night guard duty. What a 
pleasure it was to be corporal of the guard in those days, 
with the whole chain of sentinels bawling after him at one 
and the same time for causeless, frivolous pretexts. How 
enjovable it was for him, inlooking up his relief at midnight, 
to find their belts on the tent poles misplaced, and to receive 
a cuff pn the ear, or the heel of a shoe in the face, when he 
awoke the wrong parties, as he was almost certain to do. 
How enjoyable Capt. Hastings made things for the entire 
guard and camp when he happened to be officer of the day ! 
Shortlv after their arrival one of the Company D men 


got into trouble in Washington. It was on a Sunday, and 
this man whose name was Henry C. Vedder, wanted to 
hear, a celebrated clergyman preach at the capitol, while his 
two companions preferred to enjoy the sunshine and queer 
sights of that then somewhat antiquated city. Vedder was 
persistent, and left the others in disgust to follow out his 
devout inclinations, forgetting that his companions had the 
one pass for the three, so that he was soon arrested by the 
provost-guard who refused to listen to his animated story 
about the pass, hustling him off to the guardhouse without 
ceremony, where he remained the entire Sunday, musing 
no doubt upon the irreverence of his companions, to say 
nothing of his own wretched surroundings, with the certainty 
of being hounded for at least a week by the tantalizing 
comrades of his company. 

Strictness in military discipline is essential to good order 
and successful soldiership. Without a proper regard there- 
for, no army can be relied on in time of need, and therefore 
the absolute necessity while in camp or garrison to enforce 
respect for orders, for the observance of which, officers and 
men alike are held responsible, no deviation therefrom 
being allowed. "Obey your commands," is the first and 
imperative duty of a soldier. It is true that in the volunteer 
service, particularly in its first stages, many things apparently 
trivial in character were overlooked, until at least the men 
had been long enough in service to understand they were no 
longer civilians, and their natural independence curtailed or 
broken, to fit them for their new condition ; so that, while in 
Camp of Instruction many little acts "contra^ to good 
order and military discipline," were disregarded by even the 
most rigid disciplinarian. After they got into the field with 
the enemy before them, it was different, and for what else- 
where (in drill camps) would be considered slight offenses, 
heavy punishment was often inflicted. A case in point, 
amusing to the boys, is «iven to show how - reckless the new 


volunteer sometimes became, regardless of consequences, 
with the chances all against him. 


In Company F was a well made, hardy looking six- 
footer, of a rather uncontrollable disposition, unused to 
discipline, and especially that kind requiring him to look up 
to others whose superiority was more in their relative posi- 
tions in the service than in their physical makeup. This 
stalwart Vermonter was not always very particular as to 
how he conducted himself when officers were around, especial ly 
if they were really inferior to him in muscle. One morning 
this man was on guard, and happened to be in one of his 
too-frequent independent moods, — "a heap of sarcasm, " — 
when along came one of the field officers in full uniform, 
just from the city, with gold epaulettes on his shoulders, 
high cocked hat, and dangling sabre rattling at every step ; 
when, after taking a most tantalizing stare at the officer, 
deliberately sticking his bayoneted gun in the ground, he 
mounted a fence rail, and with his elbows stuck down in his 
knees, his chin buried deep in his hands, called out, as he 
afterwards claimed, "in a very sociable manner: " 

"I say! Come over here a moment." 
To say that the officer looked astounded at the 
audacity of the volunteer from Vermont is expressing it too 
mild. His cheeks turned white, then red in a moment, while 
his face worked hard and rapid in a desperate endeavor to 
control his rage, but finally toning down his voice as calmly 
as it were at all possible, yelled out to the reckless sentinel 
to explain his conduct then and there. But as the insolent 
camp guard merely wanted some tobacco, — "to take a 
friendly chew," — the officer bolted with rage into camp to 
headquarters, where Col. Berdan was treated to a specimen 
of regular swearing, at "the damnable impudence of his 
cursed volunteers." 


In most every encampment there is at least one officer 
who is continually getting into hot water, so to speak. 
Who seems to be constituted a target for all the rough hits 
and slang phrases of the camp, caused principally by a too 
earnest desire to show his authority while on duty. The 
picture may be recognized in every regiment, wherein the 
obstreperous martinet is frequently taken down, for trying 
to fill the guardhouse with men of other companies for 
very little causes. Such officers soon get to be despised. 
There are other officers more fortunate in their disposition, 
for whom the men could not do too much. And yet, the real test 
was on the field of battle; if the officers stayed with their 
men, their respect was honorably earned . If they tried to 
keep out and away from the line of danger, it was deservedly 

The regiment was reviewed late in the fall by Gen. 
McDowell, and visited at various times by those noted war 
governors of the West and East, Randall of Wisconsin, 
Blair of Michigan, Ramsey of Minnesota, Berry of New 
Hampshire, and Sprague of Rhode Island. Also by Senators 
Wilkinson (Minn.), Doolittle (Wis.), Chandler (Mich.), and 
Harris (N. Y.), who were looking after the welfare of the 
volunteers from their respective states. 

As the spring-time approached, every preparation was 
made by all the troops about Washington for a forward 
movement, from the camps of instruction to active service. 
The quartermasters were particularly busy, and in the 
Sharpshooter regiments were the recipients of a large 
amount of extra clothing, blankets, etc., turned in for safe 
keeping until needed in the future. Marching orders were 
getting common, and war rumors became frequent as the 
spring advanced. 





On the 20th of March, 1S62, the First Regiment of 
Sharpshooters broke camp at Washington in the afternoon, 
and marching through the city, proceeded over Long- 
Bridge to a point beyond Alexandria, in Virginia, where 
they arrived long alter dark after a very fatiguing march in 
a soaking rain through a sea of mud, — said to be 15 
miles. It was the regiment's first march, and proved a hard 
one with their backs weighted down with heavy knap- 
sacks, — extra clothing, blankets, etc., — making many a 
lame back and sore shoulder. Added to this, their first 
troubles, general headquarters could not be found, and 
considerable standing around occurred before they were 
luckily piloted to an old camp now deserted, of the 69th 
New York, introduced to us as "Camp Californy." But 
notwithstanding this rough introduction to active service, 
the regiment had started forth with light hearts, for at 
last they were leaving a long encampment, chafing and 
fretting with a pardonable impatience to get away, — to "do 
something or go home,"— for new, more active and warlike 
scenes. After six months camp life they were anxious to 
get to the front, and see for themselves what manner of man 


this enemy was they had heard so much about. They were 
at last going to have an opportunity to size up a "Johnny 

I will not attempt to describe their feelings as they 
manned out of Washington; it was a mixture of joy and 
sadness, hopes and fears, expressed in a merry laugh or a 
long-drawn sigh. Not a cowardly fear, but that natural 
anxiety for the ultimate result of the movement, wherein 
the individual life as well as the Union was at stake. A num- 
ber unable to march were left behind, some of whom never 
caught up — being discharged. 

The regiment, except the two companies having target 
rifles, were armed with Colt's five-shot revolving rifles, the 
long promised Sharps not having arrived. It was thought 
at first that these Colts would not shoot true, but this 
proved not exactly the case as they were pretty good line 
shooters, although there was some danger of all the 
chambers exploding at once. The shooting qualities of 
this arm were tested in several instances before getting into 
action, and some good shots were noted. Andrew J. Peircc, 
of Company G, a very clean and tasty soldier, while on the 
way down the Potomac made a trial shot of the five cham- 
bers in the presence of the regimental officers, at a buoy 
bobbing up in the river some 400 yards distant, and the 
result was thus announced by Col. Berdan, who, with the 
other officers, were intently watching with their field 
glasses : 

"There, that will do, sir. You have struck the buoy 
twice, and 'twas well done." 

Peirce had not an opportunity heretofore to make any 
targets, on account of the Wisconsin company having no 
arms in Camp of Instruction, and this, his first chance to 
draw a bead, was very satisfactory to the officers men- 

The regimental officers were now as follows : 



Colonel — Hiram Berdan, of New York. 

Lieutenant-Colonel — Wra. Y. W. Ripley, of Vermont. 

Major — Casper Trepp, of New York. 

Adjutant — F. A. Willett, of Michigan. 

Quartermaster— W. H. B. Beebe, of New York. 

Chaplain — Rev. Gurdon S. Coit, of Connecticut. 

Surgeon — Guy C. Marshall, of New York. 

The lieutenant-colonel and major ranked from Dec. 1, 
1861. "Col." Ripley had seen service as captain in the 1st 
Vermont Volunteers. Maj. Trepp, formerly captain of 
Company A, had received a good military education in 
Switzerland, and was in active service in Europe. The 
quartermaster was a well-known and once popular hatter 
of New York city. 

Much doubt had been entertained by old army officers, 
as to our efficiency as a distinctive branch of service — that 
of sharpshooting and skirmishing. But this feeling changed 
after the breech-loading system was developed in their first 
action, and the success there attained never failed there- 


Colonel — Henry A. V. Post, of New York. 

Lieutenant-Colonel — Francis Peteler, of Minnesota. 

Major — Amos B.Jones, of New Hampshire. 

Adjutant — Lewis C. Parmelee, of Connecticut. 

Quartermaster — B. S. Calef, of Boston. 

Chaplain — Lorenzo Barber, of Albany, N. Y. 

Surgeon — Chas. P. Hale, of New Hampshire. 

This regiment left Camp of Instruction about the same 
time as the First, being assigned to the army under Gen. 
McDowell, and they were armed and equipped the same as 
the First Regiment. As the movements of McDowell's 
corps was intended to be in conjunction, to co-operate with 
McClellan's troops in the advance on Richmond, this 



campaign includes their movements as far as the Second 
Sharpshooters are concerned, which will be taken up in 
the interim. 

Leaving the "Californy" camp on the 21st, Berdan's 
regiment embarked in the evening at Alexandria on board 
steam transport Emperor, and during the night men were 
detailed carrying supplies and baggage to different steam- 
boats. It being a rainy and very dark night, and many 
soldiers from the different regiments running to and fro, it 
was not strange that accidents should occur in the confusion, 
and several fell overboard to be rescued from their cold bath, 
one man being drowned. W. G. Smith and Jno S. Tillotson, 
of Company G, received credit for pulling out two of these 
men. It was a dangerous place and the wonder is that 
more were not lost in the darkness, owing for some unac- 
countable reason to a remarkable scarcity of lights on the 
docks. Early the next morning the transport steamed 
down the Potomac in company with many others, some 22 
in all, containing the division of Gen. Fitz John Porter of 
the 3d corps of the Army of the Potomac, and arrived the 
afternoon of the 23d opposite Fortress Monroe, passing 
several deserted works en route. 

It. was a beautiful day when they left Alexandria after 
the drenching weather just experienced, and the soldiers 
easily forgot the previous night's wetting and their tiresome, 
muddy march from Washington, in the general enthusiasm 
depicted on every countenance at the grand pageant before 
them; as all the steamers having been ordered to pass in 
review ran first up stream a short distance, when turning 
downward they passed Gen. Porter's flagship amid the roar 
of saluting cannon, the waving of flags, cheers of patriots, 
and bands of music playing on every side. Nor was the 
excitement abated during their pleasant sail down stream 
until they approached Mt. Vernon, when all seemed inspired 
with the one feeling of reverence as hats came off and sud- 


den quietness prevailed, except with the bands changing 
their lively tunes to more solemn strains, in token of respect 
for the tomb of George Washington. And it was good to 
turn their attention from the hilarious to more serious 
thoughts of home and friends far North, and to peer into 
the near future with its uncertainties and its forebodings. For, 
of all places in the hearts of patriotic Americans, there is 
none to produce the same feeling of veneration existing on a 
visit to this hallowed spot. No matter how many great 
and worthy men we have had, soldiers or civilians, there can 
be but one Washington. 

On our arrival at Fortress Monroe we found Hampton 
Roads harboring hundreds of vessels, moving about or dis- 
charging troops and supplies, guns and ammunition. The 
wonderful Monitor had but lately wound up the destructive 
career of the rebel ram Merrimac, in the greatest naval 
battle known, and was now riding peacefully at anchor, — an 
advanced sentinel,— ready to serve the balance of the Con- 
federate navy by knocking them out of existence, should 
they dare to show up, or threaten our transport vessels. 

During the morning of the 24th the regiment landed at 
Hampton, on the Virginia peninsula, with appetites sharp- 
ened, their rations having by some oversight been placed on 
board another transport. The men were more or less 
starved on this trip, the invigorating breezes from the 
Chesapeake having a very stimulating effect on the rarely 
failing appetites of the healthy members. In such hungry 
dilemmas the roughest food often proves very acceptable, 
and the writer experienced a keen relish for a rind of raw 
bacon about a foot square, and it proved one of the sweetest 
morsels ever masticated by this hungry volunteer. 

The village of Hampton was deserted and in ruins, 
having been burned by the rebel Gen. Magruder in August, 
1861, to prevent its being used for quartering Union troops. 
It was denounced as a wanton act, without warning to 


defenceless inhabitants, forced from blazing beds and homes 
at the midnight hour. And at the time of which I write, 
little else could be found there but tall, blackened chimneys 
towering high above heaps of charred timbers, and burnt 
and crumbling bricks — a startling picture of war's deso- 

While on Hampton beach the boys waded in waist deep 
after oysters and other shell-fish, which were served up in 
all manner of styles, around huge fires started on the shore. 
There were roast clams, fried oysters, stewed periwinkles 
and boiled muscles. It was one of the good times enjoyed 
by the soldiers, and jokes and songs were in order, with 
long and strong choruses echoing down the rebel shores. 
And if there were any rebels on the other shore the}* prob- 
ably heard the chorus. It was a regular concert. Other 
regiments had their fun also, for this might properly be 
called, to man}-, their first day in rebeldom, the enemy's 
scouts being not far distant, and as it was uncertain where 
they would be to-morrow, they were bound to make the 
most of it. In the singing, the great army choruses were 
taken up, when they were "Way down south in Dixie", or 
marching on with "John Brown". It was catching, and 
rank and file, the line, field and staff, were alike affected. 
So they kept it up, until the stern "Fall in!" reminded 
them of a different kind of fun ahead. But the ever changing 
character of soldier life would not admit of much time 
speculating on the future. And it was better so, that 
military ardor and excitement take the place of deep brood- 
ing over useless imaginings. Thus it happened soon after, 
on the bugle sounding the '-assembly," when the Sharp- 
shooters went into temporary camp near by, in an old corn- 
field four miles from Ft. Monroe, among a large body of 
troops. It was the beginning of war. 



March 27, 1862. 

At an early hour, before dawn, the Sharpshooters left 
their encampment to take part in a grand reconnoissance 
by the division of Gen. Porter, which proceeded on two 
parallel roads, the Sharpshooters ahead in line of skirmish- 
ers — one-half under Col. Berdan, the other wing under 
Lieut.- Col. Ripley. It was the first movement of the 
regiment in active service, and with light hearts and smiles 
of joy at the opportunity they sprang forward to their 
position of honor — the front line. Never were troops more 
eager to get out into the field of active duty. It was like a 
holiday excursion for them that day, whatever it might be 
thereafter. A position was awarded them, that depended 
upon their efficiency as to whether they would retain it. 
Their reputation was to be made, or lost on this reconnoic- 
sance. The eyes of their generals were upon them, and upon 
them devolved the duty of rendering a good account of 
themselves — and they succeeded admirably. Their advance 
through dense woods and entangling thickets, over heavy 
plowed fields, wet and muddy meadows, breaking down and 
scaling fences, often fording small streams, was made with 
an eagerness and rapidity that soon left their supports far in 
the rear, and several times they were obliged to halt until 
they came up. Until finally Capt. Auchmuty of Gen. 
Morell's staff, rode up to enquire with the general's com- 
pliments : "If the Sharpshooters intended to go on alone, or 
would they prefer to wait for support.'"' Even this scarcely 
checked them, especially after the rebel cavalry came in sight 
and shots were exchanged. A sort of running fight ensued, 


the cavalry falling back continually before our advance. On 
arriving at Great Bethel they found the enemy hurriedly 
leaving, their rear guard being attacked by the Sharp- 
shooters with some effect, particularly among their cavalry, 
and several prisoners were taken. The movement was con- 
tinued three miles beyond Bethel, towards Yorktown, but 
meeting no opposition — no enemy to contend with — they 
were ordered back to "Camp Porter," the object of the 
reconnoissance having been effected. The regiment arrived 
back to camp during the night after a tiresome tramp of 
some 30 miles. It was an important affair for them, their 
conduct being pronounced very satisfactory by the generals 
commanding. And while it proved the efficiency of their 
drill and instruction, it also tested their endurance for hard 
marching, of which this day's work was a particularly 
severe trial, and but for their constant exercise and training 
during the past fall and winter months they must have 
failed to keep up without a long list of stragglers. For an 
initiatory performance, they could never have done better. 
They were no longer raw troops, but were fast earning the 
title of "old soldiers." 

An incident occurred while we were lying at Hampton 
wherein a Company F man, C. G. Odell, distinguished him- 
self as an earnest champion of the defenceless. It was while 
on picket. The line ran close to a farmhouse, where some 
U. S. soldiers (regulars) were stationed. The family living 
between the lines did not have a good opportunity of getting 
food for themselves, and what scant}'- fare they did have 
was spread before the children, the parents serving them first; 
when one of the above mentioned soldiers was going to sit 
down and eat the children's portion, despite the expostula- 
tions of the parents. Odell tried to reason with the brute, 
but he would not listen to reason; whereupon the Sharp- 
shooter threatened him with the bayonet and five revolving 
shots if he didn't desist — "gave him to understand he 


would have to walk over my dead body before he took the 
food out of those children's mouths." This had the happy 
effect of forcing the fellow away, for which the deep grati- 
tude of the entire family, freely expressed, was bestowed on 
Odell. Soon after this occurrence Odell again distinguished 
himself, in getting outside the lines, away off into a rebel 
residence, attracted thither by a young lady — gay deceiver 
— whereby he came near being captured. He had previously 
aided in freeing some negroes, when the girl sailed along and 
enticed him away. For this episode he was well laughed at 
by the boys, and scolded hard by the colonel. Yet he 
declared he had lots of fun, "whether the girl went back on 
him or not." 

On the 3d of April Gen. McClellan arrived, and great 
preparations were made for an immediate forward move- 
ment. The troops in the field at this time according to 
Gen. McClellan's own report, and which moved promptly 
the following day, were : 

Third Corps, Brig.- Gen. Heintzelman. — Two divisions, 
Porter and Hamilton; Averell's cavalry, and Sedgwick's 
division of the 2d corps. 

Fourth Corps, Brig.- Gen. Keyes.— Two divisions, Smith 
and Couch, and 5th regular cavalry. 

Syke's Brigade of regular infantry, together with Hunt's 
artillery reserve. 

In all, 58,000 men and 100 guns, besides the division 
artillery. Casey's division of the 4th corps was unable to 
move for want of wagons, and Richardson's and Hooker's 
divisions of the 2d and 3d corps had not arrived. 

The Sharpshooters again led the advance of Fitz John 
Porter's division, in the movement commencing on the 
morning of April 4th. The boys appreciated the confidence 
placed in them by this repetition of the honor bestowed, and 
proudlv marched forth — officers and men — determined to 
do all in their power to show that it had not been mis- 


placed. At an early hour before daylight they were up and 
ready, the regiment taking up the line of march at the head 
of the column, and passing Bethel halted for the night in a 
cornfield at a place called Cockletown, 24 miles distant. 
Although the distance reported for this day may have been 
somewhat greater than the actual number of miles by direct 
road, it should be borne in mind that troops do not always 
follow direct routes : on the contrary often diverge from the 
same, especially when "feeling their way". This will account 
for any difference that may hereafter manifest itself in regard 
to the real distance between given points. 


April 4, 1862. 

Before bivouacking the Sharpshooters had routed on 
the way a small force of the enemy consisting of 400 
Mississippi infantry, two pieces of artillery and some cav- 
alry, at the crossing of a small stream called the Pocmosin, 
where they planted their flag on a small earth-work, captur- 
ing some prisoners ; one company (B) going forward in line 
of skirmishers over the field, the others moving up as a sup- 
port. A few shots from our artillery and a volley from the 
Sharpshooters followed the retreating foe, who hurried off 
as our skirmishers deployed out and advanced onto their 
position. It wasn't much of a fight, but what there was. 
the Sharpshooters got the glory of it. 

Gen. Morell commanding 2d brigade of Gen. Porter's 
division, in his report to Gen. Porter of this affair, says: 

"Pursuant to orders for the advance of the Army of 
the Potomac, my brigade, composed of the 14th New York, 
Col. McQuade; 4th Michigan. Col. Woodbury; 9th Mas- 


sachusetts, Col. Cass; and 62d Pennsylvania, Col. Black; 
nioved from Camp No. 2, near Hampton, at five o'clock a. 
m., on the 4th current, preceded by Col. AverelFs cavalry 
and Col. Berdan's Sharpshooters, and escorting Griffin's 
and Weeden's batteries of artillery. I marched to Big 
Bethel over the same route as in the reconnoissance of the 
27th ult. Beyond Big Bethel the cavalry fell to the rear, 
the Sharpshooters, as skirmishers, continuing in front of 
my brigade, which had the honor of leading the column. A 
small body of the enemy's cavalry retired as we advanced, 
and, though frequently in sight, kept out of reach. As we 
approached Howard's Bridge over the Poquosin river I 
threw forward part of the 14th New York, also as 
skirmishers, and advanced with them and the Sharpshooters 
to ascertain if the works which I had reconnoitered on the 
27th ult. were still occupied. When within a few hundred 
yards of them the enemy opened fire upon us. Meanwhile 
the balance of the 14th had deployed to the right. The 
-i th .Michigan by your order, extended on their right to the 
river, and the artillery had come to the front. The whole 
steadily pressed forward, and after a slight resistance the 
enemy retreated." 

While awaiting orders to resume the movement, some of 
the men did a little foraging, and Eugene Paine, of 
Company F, tells how they rolled out a hogshead from a 
building, and covered themselves with molasses, if not glory; 
a fierce attack being made on the sticky stuff, with their 
hands and faces and clothes besmeared, some coming out of 
the fracas with only their cup handles, and all bearing 
" sweet evidence " of the struggle to get the lion's share. 
This is related as one of the little recreations the bo\-s 
indulged in, — when they got a chance, — and while it would 
not be considered exactly proper according to the rules in 
force governing the conduct of the troops, it was among 
the expected things when the opportunity was presented. 
It was tough on the owner, but that's what he contributed 
"towards the maintenance of the army " and the amuse- 
ment of the "boys." 

\ u ' ¥ 




April 5, 1! 

[This day's fight was called by Gen. Porter, the "Battle of Yorktown," 
the succeeding operations the "Siege of Yorktown."] 

The next morning the Sharpshooters again advanced, 
and rapidly, with a scanty supply of rations, and alter 
scouting awhile through woods and fields the rain at times 
pouring fast which, though drenching in character, failed to 
dampen their ardor, at about ten in the forenoon were sud- 
denly fired on by a rebel field-piece in front of Yorktown. 
The screaming shell passed harmlessly over into a field 
beyond, and was followed by several others without damage 
to the men. The first shot, which came quartering over "G" 
company, well aimed but a little high, had the remarkable 
effect of causing almost every man to duck, which movement 
extended to some of the other immediate companies. Such 
a droll occurrence, such grotesque dodging, never was seen 
again in that regiment. But the shell came so sudden and 
unexpected, and so close with its shrieking noise, the first 
many had ever heard, that the men, governed by the same 
impulse, ducked and crouched simultaneously, as if 
instructed — one time and one motion. The next moment 
they were up again, and with loud hurrahs, and laughter at 
each other, they rushed ahead down the road on double- 
quick. As the riflemen pressed forward the enemy fell 
hurriedly back and soon after, far in advance, approached 
within sight of the formidable looking earth-works next to 
York river, computed by our battery men 1,800 yards dis- 
tant, and which were well mounted with guns of large 


caliber. These forces were commanded by Gen. J. B. 

Leaving the road on the right, the Wisconsin men with 
the Swiss company deployed out in an open field, the latter 
on the right of the line, where they rem ained # upwards of an 
hour in support of Weeden's battery/ which had hurried up, 
taken position and opened fire, and which was afterwa: ds 
joined by Griffin's battery on their right. The shell of the 
enemy came rapidly over, bursting in close proximity to the 
riflemen, the pieces striking the ground around them but 
without injuring them. Not so with the artillery r , which 
had one man killed and several wounded during that time. 
The balance of our regiment was distributed in different 
parts of the field on either side of the road. The rebel 
infantry drawn up in front of the works, were soon scattered 
and sought cover behind the same. The Wisconsin company 
was finally assembled and marched to some buildings in a 
peach orchard on the left of the road, where they rested 
under arms an hour. Morell's brigade was now in position 
supporting the batteries behind us, while the other troops 
were hurrying forward, but did not reach the vicinity until 
afternoon. Meanwhile the target riflemen had taken 
position on the left, behind a fence 800 yards from the 
enemy's works, and were soon joined by men from other 
companies. New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan and Wis- 
consin, were principally represented at that point. While 
here the Vermonters cried out : " Corporal Peck " (C.W.) "is 
hit," the first casualty in that company. He received a 
severe wound but didn't leave to stay, returning for more 
hard work and honest service. During this time Company 
B had been surprised by a masked battery ahead, and on 
receiving a heavy discharge of canister shot were ordered back 
to a line with the rest of the regiment. Lieut. Albert R. 
Barret, ( formerly orderly sergeant of Company H), says of 
his company: "In that battle of Yorktown, when we were 


ordered up, my company (II), in passing to the front to 
take position on a hill as near the enemy's works as possible, 

had to cross a slight hollow, and, as we did so, a shower of 
bullets flew around and over us. We took double-quick 
and passed safely over, but many of us had bullet marks in 
our clothes, the balls also striking the ground in front, every 
step we took. " 

From the peach orchard fence the Sharpshooters proved 
themselves. In a very short time they succeeded in silencing 
a number of cannon in their front, which the enem v were 
unable to load, so fast and thick did Colt, Sharps and 
target-rifle bullets come in upon them. Their futile attempts 
to man their guns, their excited gestures running to and fro, 
were plainly to be seen by our men, and with cheers they drove 
them off, or dropped them, whenever they came forward. 
They were completely silenced, and the Sharpshooters thus 
demonstrated their efficiency for such an occasion. 

There was but one Sharps rifle in the regiment at the 
time, which was the personal property of Truman Head, 
better known as "Old Californy," or "California Joe," a 
member of Company C, and who gave most convincing 
proofs of his skill as a marksman. This particular Sharps 
rifle was purchased while at Camp of Instruction, and had 
a sabre bayonet and single trigger. But the men, after a 
careful examination of the outfit, while the}- unanimously 
endorsed the rifle, decided they would rather have the angu- 
lar bayonet as less cumbersome, and more to the "point." 

After a resting spell and a scanty demand on the haver- 
sack, the rebel bullets in the meantime whizzing wildly 
in and around the yard and buildings, the Wisconsinites 
and Yermonters took up a position on the right of the road 
in the field first entered, where they remained until after nine 
o'clock at night, being exposed during that time to the fire 
of the enemy's cannon on the right of the works, also to a 
cross-fire from the left during the latter part of the after- 


noon, at a time when those at the peach orchard fence had 
been called off, owing to an anticipated attack from the 
rebel cavalry, who came out from behind their works, pre- 
senting a bold front on the open plain as they drew up in 
line, threatening to ride down the five-shooting riflemen by 
the roadside, and cut off those in the orchard. The men 
with the Colts quietly awaited their coming, and had they 
made the rash attempt but few would ever have returned. 
With five shots from every man at close quarters, death and 
destruction awaited them. But a Union shell exploded in 
their midst, scattering them hurriedly, while several well 
aimed rifle bullets helped to hurry them back to cover. The 
officer in command fell, — 'twas claimed he received the con- 
tents of the Sharps rifle, — his white bosom presenting a 
blood-stained mark as he tumbled from his horse, which was 
reported as plainly discernible through one of the strong 
rifle telescopes brought into use. 

On several occasions the rebel shell broke the fence rails 
above and ploughed through the small embankment where 
our men lay, throwing dirt over them ; once, when the guns 
of the enemy were rapidly at work sending these shrieking 
shells closely over, James S. Webster and A. J. Peirce, of 
Company G, were suddenly, but harmlessly, elevated from 
the ground by one of these missiles penetrating the bank 
under and between them, which, landing in front of Lieut. 
Marble, C. A. Stevens, George Whitson and Wm. W. Sweet, 
phizzed out. Had the shell exploded, many would have 
been hurt. It was an exciting time, yet the members of the 
different companies kept cool, behaving like veterans. At 
sunset the rebel bands played "Dixie," which they immedi- 
ately followed up by a terrible cannonading from all points, 
trying hard to demoralize the Sharpshooters, but failed. 
Our men kept quiet and took the "fiery shower" with the 
utmost composure. The Union batteries responded with 



vigor, and for a time war's music filled the air with all its 
loud-mouthed, terrific tones. 

The casualties this day in the regiment were not large 
considering- the time — upwards of ten hours — they were 
under fire of shot and shell, there being but three killed and 
six wounded, but many very narrow escapes. The first man 
killed in the regiment was Private John S. M. Ide, of New 
Hampshire, who, while exchanging shots from an exposed 
position in front of an old building with a Confederate con- 
cealed behind a distant tree top that was toppled over in 
front of the works, was brained by the enemy's bullet. And 
it was not until night had closed the day's shooting that 
his body could be safely removed. On learning of the fall of 
this man, Col. Ripley, notwithstanding the dangerous 
approach to the fatal spot, and that his field-duties did not 
oblige him to thus expose himself, boldly walked down the 
lane which was at the time completely under the rebel fire. 
With a quick step, but erect, this good officer advanced, the 
admiration of hundreds of eye witnesses, while bullets 
plowed and dusted the ground around him. On reaching 
the body of the prostrate rifleman he inquired into the man- 
ner Ide had been shooting, then picking up the fallen man's 
rifle, screwed up the telescope one notch, believing that Ide 
had been shooting under. "I'll try him a shot at one notch 
higher anyway," he said; then taking position, the man in 
the tree top was discovered, a quick aim and interchange of 
shots followed. Ripley escaped harmless as the ball spat- 
tered in the log building behind him. But the grey-backed 
fellow — well, there were no more shots from that tree top. 
Whether killed or seared to death, it was a sure case of a 
"gone Johnny." Private David Phelps, of Company H, was 
killed this day, and later on, Daniel C. Painter, of Company 
B, and Sergt. James Way, of Company C, were wounded. 

At half-past nine P. m., the Sharpshooters, having been 
all this time thus far in advance of the other troops, were 


relieved by the 44th New York and a Michigan regiment 
who had reached the vicinity of the field during the after- 
noon; and retiring a mile to the rear, Col. Berdan rested his 
men in a thick piece of woods. Thus ended the "battle of 
Yorktown," an engagement that developed the strength of 
the enemy's position, and the importance of the Sharp- 
shooters as a distinctive branch of service. For, from the 
time we left camp at Hampton the regiment was in advance 
of the column, remained so before the Yorktown batteries 
until relieved late after dark, and were the only troops 
engaged, with the artillery, on that field. 

Gen. Porter says in his report: "The Sharpshooters 
under Col. Berdan were busilv engaged as skirmishers, and 
did good service in picking off the enemy's skirmishers and 
artillerists whenever they should show themselves." 

On the following day the regiment received a compli- 
mentary notice from Gen. Porter on account of this first 
day's engagement, which was read to them by the colonel a 
few days alter. It was as follows : 

Headquarters Porter's Division, 
Third Army Corps. 
Camp near Yorktown, April 6, 1862. 
Col. Berdan, Commanding Sharpshooters, 

Colonel : — The Commanding General instructs me to say 
to you that he is glad to learn, from the admission of the 
enemy themselves, that they begin to fear your Sharp- 
shooters. Your men have caused a number of rebels to bite 
the dust. The Commanding General is glad to find your 
corps are proving themselves so efficient,, and trusts that 
this intelligence will encourage your men, give them, if 
possible, steadier hands and clearer eyes, so that when their 
trusty rifles are pointed at the foe, there will be one rebel 
less at every discharge. I am, Colonel, very respectfully, 
vour obedient servant, 

Fred. T. Locke, A. A. G. 

For several days succeeding the fight of the 5th the 
weather was rainv and the roads heav\- with mud, therebv 


delaying the arrival of transports with rations, only a 
scanty supply of which had been taken along on breaking 
camp near Hampton, and soon causing empty haversacks. 
It also caused delay in getting up the artillery, especially the 
heavy pieces. 

Gen. McClcllan thus speaks of this delay, in his general 
report: "The progress of each column had been retarded by 
heavy rains on that day (5th), which had made the roads 
almost impassable to all but a small portion of the artillery, 
v\thile the ammunition, provisions and forage could not be 
brought up at all. * * * Heavy rains made the roads to 
Ft. Monroe impassable, and delayed the arrival of troops, 
ammunition and supplies, while storms prevented for several 
days the sailing of transports from Hampton Roads and 
the establishment of depots on the creeks of York river near 
the Army." 

The rations giving out, the men were put to the desper- 
ate strait of risking punishment for violation of orders in 
killing cattle found in some fields ; and a good many were 
shot, a steak or roast cut away, and the huge carcass left 
where it fell. The officers did their best to stop the slaugh- 
ter, or pretended to, but it was a long time before it ceased. 

"For man is a carnivorous production, 

And must have meals, at least one meal a day; 
He cannot live, like woodcocks, upon suction, 
But, like the shark and tiger, must have prey." 

The moment the soldiers began to taste the half-cooked 
beef, that moment they didn't want to slay any more 
innocent bovines. It was bad enough to be without salt, 
but added to that was the garlicky flavor of the meat, 
which threatened to sicken all that ate it, and most all tried 
to. But they couldn't stand garlic. 

James Winchell, of Company D, now came into camp 
-with 25 pounds of sugar and coffee on his back which he 
had carried from Hampton, where he had been left behind 


as one of the guards in charge of a considerable amount of 
camp utensils and stores left there when the troops moved 
off. He told a story on one of the sutlers who had remained 
at Hampton with his goods. The latter imbibed too freely 
on his unsold and now unbottled beer, and getting very 
patriotic made speeches to the guards and company cooks, 
to his ultimate loss of a roll of greenbacks, which were found 
and confiscated by some of the camp followers, the sutler 
being too drunk to prove property. , 

From the nature of the ground it was impossible to get 
onto the enemy's works without considerable preliminary 
preparations, owing to the swampy woods, the flooded 
roads, and fallen trees along the line of the Warwick — 
extending from Yorktown to the James, where the Confeder- 
ate gun-boats had full sway. Therefore having reconnoi- 
tered the enemy's position sufficiently to satisfy him that 
much loss of life would result from an immediate assault, 
and with very doubtful success in front of the Yorktown 
fortifications — strong bastioned works — whatever might 
be the result to the left, in the swamps, also strongly covered 
by the enemy's batteries, Gen. McClellan determined to 
besiege Yorktown, and work was immediately commenced. 

In his report on this decision McClellan says : "Instant 
assault would have been simple folly." 

Gen. Barnard, chief engineer, in favoring only siege 
operations in front of Yorktown, said: "It was deemed 
too hazardous to attempt a reduction of the place by 

Gen. Keyes, commanding the 4th corps, gave it as his 
opinion that: "The line in front of us was one of the 
strongestever opposed to an invadingforce in anycountry." 

And as showing how quickly the army moved after Gen. 
McClellan arrived at Hampton, without any delay what- 
ever, Gen. Keyes adds : " Not a day was lost in the advance, 
and in fact we marched so quickly and so rapidly, that 
many of our animals were 24 and 48 hours without a 
ration of forage." 


On the 10th of April the Sharpshooters moved back 
a half mile and made a camp not far from the river. The 
other troops also encamped in the fields before Yorktown, 
making one grand encampment known as "Camp Winfield 
Scott." That of the Sharpshooters was very nicely 
arranged, cedar bushes and small trees being planted in 
front of the tents and along the color line, which served the 
double purpose of shade trees and to conceal their position 
from the enenry's lookouts, rendering a successful shelling by 
rebel artillerists an uncertainty. Arches were formed of 
cedar brush over the entrance to each street, with letter of 
company in center of same, so that there was probably no 
regiment in the field that presented a better arranged camp 
than that of the First United States Sharpshooters before 


April 10— May 4, 1862. 

During the progress of the siege, which may properly 
be stated to have commenced about April 10th, the Sharp- 
shooters furnished daily details of 60 men, who leaving 
camp before day break took up a position in rifle pits in 
advance of the fatigue parties, and watching the rebel 
works during the day, were relieved at night by other 
troops and returned to camp. Works were in the meantime 
hurriedly thrown up, roads built, parallels dug, in fact 
everything necessary was being done to protect the artiller- 
ists and the advance of the troops when the struggle should 
commence for the possession of the position before them. 
During this time the fatigue parties were much annoyed by 
the fire of the rebel cannon, which at times were kept in 
constant use, especially at night. The Union gunboats in 


York river were engaged exchanging shots with the forts at 
long range, also in shelling the opposite shore where the 
enemy were in possession, particularly at Gloucester Point; 
while effective shots were frequently made from our shore 
batteries from one and one-half to three miles distant, dis- 
mounting cannon and ploughing deep furrows through the 
earthworks of the enemy. But little fatigue duty was per- 
formed by the Sharpshooters, and that consisted principally 
in carrying gabions to the advanced works to be prepared 
for the protection of our gunners. The following named 
accomplished officers superintended the siege operations: 
"Brig. -Gen. J. G. Barnard, chief engineer, charged with the 
selection, laying out, and completion of the approaches and 
batteries; Brig.-Gen. Wm. F. Barry, chief of artillery, 
charged with arming and supplying with ammunition all 
the siege and field batteries; Brig.-Gen. Fitz. John Porter, 
director of the siege, to whom was assigned the guarding of 
the trenches, the assembling and distribution of the working 
parties, etc." 


On the 11th of April a great sensation occurred in the 
Union camp, on the report quickly spreading that Gen. 
Porter had been carried off by a balloon, which proved to 
be the case. Prof. Lowe's balloons were near the Sharp- 
shooter camp, and this morning Gen. Porter, impatient at 
Lowe's absence, went up alone to make observations, — to 
take a view of the enemy, — when the rope holding the 
balloon parted below and away she shot high up in air, 
sailing rapidly over the rebel lines ; the general pulled away 
at the ropes until they were all tangled up, but he could n't 
manage the wild thing. Finally, the gas giving out, the 
machine came down about four miles off with a big bump. 
Col. Ri pie}- with other officers had mounted their horses and 
hunted him up. It w T as a terrible experience, and Gen. 


McClellan was pretty badly scared about it. He immedi- 
ately issued orders forbidding his officers taking an y more 
balloon excursions. Previous to that, they used to go up 
occasionally and take a view of the surroundings, as it was 
an interesting trip as long as the ropes held it fast to the 

But Gen. Porter had a long ladder prepared and erected, 
standing 100 feet in the air, fastened to a tree. After being 
placed in position James Winchell of the Sharpshooters was 
sent up to test it. Taking an officer's field-glass he reported 
he could see Yorktown and Gloucester very readily, so that 
it was used by the general officers for a place of observa- 

Speaking of balloons, later on the enemy tried their hand 
at that manner of "observations," and Lieut. Bronson, of 
Company. F, reported that his detail at the front (April 26) 
fh-ed into this rebel balloon made of an A tent, and brought 
it down. At the same time the 1st and 11th Massachusetts 
charged and captured a redoubt near the Yorktown road in 
the woods. 

During the night of April 11th, which was a very dark 
one, a detail of six Sharpshooters sent out as an advanced 
picket had a short but exciting brush with a considerable 
force of the enemy in the old peach orchard. Our men had 
gone too far forward and occupied rebel ground, and the 
enemy were determined to drive them back. They were 
known to be advancing by the noise made, slight as it was, — 
you couldn't see anything, — but on getting close enough to 
be heard giving low commands, the Sharpshooters suddenly 
opened fire with their skirmish rifles, and kept it up for a few 
moments in a lively, resolute manner. This was a surpriser, 
and threw the approaching force into confusion, causing 
them to come to a sudden halt. Rapidly reloading, the 
picket waited until they heard them coming again, when 
another sharp and well-directed volley once more stopped 


them. Our fire was now returned in earnest, the bullets 
whizzing by very close, the pickets still retaining their posi- 
tion. As another advance was made by the unseen 
enemy, firing as they came on, apparently closing in and 
around the little band, the latter poured in a final round 
and quickly fell back on the reserve, a longways in the rear. 
Owing to the dense darkness but little could be seen, nor 
were the enemy distinguishable except by their fire, but so 
close did they come that, as H. J. Peck, of Company F, 
remarked : "You could hear them breathe." The fire of the 
Sharpshooters had evidently made them desperate, as they 
finally came on with a rush, swearing: "D — n you, get out 
yer," intent on wiping the boys out.. It was an exciting 
time, made doubly so by the 

" Bright flashes in the inky night," 

and the unusually loud report of the guns. California J oe 
and another Michigan comrade were slightly wounded, the 
former receiving a bullet on the band of his Sharps rifle, 
snapping the same, driving it with force against his nose 
and cheek, causing the blood to flow freely. Peck, of 
Vermont, had his left hand hurt by a piece of board knocked 
off an old building they were passing, while several infantry 
men stationed in their rear were said to have been shot by 
the elevated balls. On their return to camp the next morn- 
ing much excitement existed for a time — the camp was wild 
— at the rapidly-spreading report that "Old Californy was 
shot." This was increased on the return of another squad 
( Wisconsin men), who had a fight the same night at a mill 
near the river, where some sharp shooting also occurred. 
But our men lying close, and constantly moving their 
position after firing, escaped injury; at the same timedeceiv- 
ing the enemy, who might easily imagine a much larger 
force in their front, they being strangers to the Sharp- 
shooters, their methods, and rapid shooting. Finally, the 


fighting having ended, they held their ground until near 
(1 a v-break, when they retired to the line of works behind 


There were few persons in the loyal states during the 
time of the Peninsula eampaign that had not heard of 
" California Joe, the Sharpshooter." The press of the North 
gave considerable space in noticing his feats of valor and his 
wonderful marksmanship. Columns of thrilling anecdotes 
or stories were published, in which this particular Sharp- 
shooter was made the hero. In fact, the names of Col. 
Berdan and California Joe were for a time linked almost 
inseparably together, and through them the Sharpshooters 
became more extensively known during this campaign than 
would probably otherwise have been the case. Almost 
everything relating to the Sharpshooters in the way of 
extraordinary shooting, was credited to "California Joe." 
From the description published of this noted person, and of 
his reputation as a California mountain hunter, one would 
have naturally supposed him to be some giant-like character, 
of a wild, fierce nature, with a disposition adapted to cower 
ordinary persons — even a rebel a mile away in a tree top or 
rifle pit. Such an impression must have prevailed among 
the average readers of the stories of his prowess. And yet 
our California Joe was no such manner of man. On the 
contrary, he was one of the mildest, I may reasonably add, 
gentlest of men. It is true this person — Truman Head, of 
Company C, First U. S. Sharpshooters — was a great rifle 
shot, who carried a Sharps breech-loading rifle, that he per- 
formed arduous and important service at the front, before 
Yorktown and on the line of the Chickahominy, whether 
with his company, or upon some special service as a scout 
and sharpshooter sent out by Col. Berdan or some of the 
generals, wherein he discovered the presence of a hidden foe 


or a masked battery of the enemy, and silenced him. And 
he never failed in his mission. That he ever "shot a man 
out of a tree two miles off, just at daybreak, first pop," I 
can best answer by stating that, if there was ever a time 
when Truman Head showed a disposition to be angry, it 
was on reading such stuff. But "Joe," as I must call him, 
was one of those splendid characters that made him a hero 
in spite of himself. Entirely free from brag and bluster, an 
unassuming man, past the middle age, short in stature, light 
in weight, and a true gentleman in every sense of the word, 
he was always a special favorite with the entire command. 
When the regiment was organizing, the breaking out of the 
rebellion having brought him East from his far west haunts 
to join the command of Col. Baker, an old friend of his, 
that gallant officer being killed at Ball's Bluff about the 
time of his arrival, he obtained permission to join the 
Michigan company while at the rendezvous opposite New 
York city. His sorrow at the death of Col. Baker was 
often expressed, and in his quiet chats with his comrades, 
he was always ready to recite the following beautiful poem 
of that gifted officer, entitled, 

To A Wave. 

Dost thou seek a star with thy swelling crest, 
O wave, that leavest thy mother's breast ? 
Dost thou leap from the prisoned depths below 
In scorn of their calm and constant flow ? 
Or art thou seeking some distant land, 
To die in murmurs upon the strand ? 

Hast thou tales to tell of the pearl-lit deep, 
Where the w ave- whelmed mariner rocks in sleep ? 
Canst thou speak of navies that sank in pride 
Ere the roll of their thunder in echo died ? 
What trophies, what banners, are floating free 
In the shadowy depths of that silent sea? 


It were vain to ask, as thou rolle6t afar, 

Of banner or mariner, ship or star : 

It were vain to seek in thy stormy face 

Some tale of the sorrowiul past to trace: 

Thou art swelling high ; thou art dashing free, — 

How vain are the questions we ask of thee. 

I too am a wave on the stormy sea: 

I too am a wanderer, driven like thee; 

I too am seeking a distant land, 

To be lost and gone ere I reach the strand, 

For the land I seek is a waveless shore, 

And they who once reach it shall wander no more. 

When Joe enlisted he executed a will bequeathing 
$50,000, should he be killed, for the care of disabled Union 
soldiers at Philadelphia, his early home. For Truman Head 
was a bachelor, although it has been stated on reliable 
hearsay that the old gent, when a young man, was once 
engaged, the girl of his choice belonging to one of the first 
families of the county; but owing to the opposition of the 
stern parent — the father — he lost the girl, both being too 
loyal to disregard the parent's wishes. Head then left his 
native heath and became a wanderer, — no one knew where, 
— and crossing the great plains arrived and settled in Cali- 
fornia. But it appears that though so far separated and his 
whereabotits unknown, the course of true love remained, for 
Head remained a bachelor and his lady a maid. His service 
as a Union soldier and Sharpshooter closed with the Penin- 
sula campaign, owing to failing health in which his eyes 
were affected, he being honorably discharged late in the fall 
of 1862. Returning to California, he died full of years and 
honors in the year 1888, respected by all who knew him. 
The death of the old veteran pioneer and Sharpshooter was 
noticed in the California press as a great public event, with 
extended notices of his career. He was buried with 
Masonic orders, and a monument has been erected to his 
memory in San Francisco. 


On the 19th of April Companies A and C were ordered 
to report to Gen. Smith's division on the left, where several 
severe contests had already taken place without accomplish- 
ing any successful result. These two companies of Sharp- 
shooters were sent lor, to work on the enemy's artillery 
which was annoying and endangering our troops, and the 
good work performed by them will be found fully reported 
further on. The following incident occurred while they were 
thus detached : 


As it was positively forbidden to shoot off guns while in 
this encampment, to prevent any real knowledge of our 
position becoming known to the enemy, therefore when one 
of the Michigan men failed to resist the temptation to blaze 
away at a large squirrel in a distant tree top, probably 
reminding him of old times at home, a guard soon appeared 
and took the sportsman in charge. Being brought before 
the general, squirrel in hand, he was put on immediate 
examination as follows: 

" Well, my man ! Why did you shoot off your gun, when 
it is against orders to do so ? " 

"I know 'tis wrong, General, but I couldn't resist the 
temptation to try that squirrel's head. 'T was a splendid 
mark, and I realh^ believe when I pulled on it, I forgot about 

The general scarcely suppressing a smile, continued: 
"Well! What was the result ? Did you bring it down ? " 

"I did," replied the marksman, "here it is," showing the 

"What! Shot through the head, off that tall tree? 
What gun do you shoot ? " 

"Target rifle, sir." 
It was one of the globe-sighted rifles. Looking steadily 
at the soldier, the general finally replied: 


"'Tis well. You may go this time, but if you had missed 
it, my friend, you would hardly have got off so easy. Cease 
firing!, Do you understand ? " 
The rifleman assented. 

"All right, then, go to your regiment," and William 
Straw, of Company C, hurried off to his quarters to toast 
his squirrel before the camp fire, with many thanks to Gen. 
Smith for allowing him to do so. 

Notwithstanding that while on picket duty the men 
frequently had sharp exchanges with their equally as deter- 
mined opponents, yet at times a disposition prevailed to 
communicate, especially when near each other, and the fol- 
lowing dialogue between two of our Sharpshooters and a 
Florida rebel is a fair specimen of the conversation indulged 
in on such occasions. The parties were separated by a deep 
swale covered with water and thick brush, and were unable 
to discover each other's person. 

Joseph Durkee hearing a noise on the other side, veiled 
out in a loud voice: "Halloo, Mike! Have you got any 
tobacco ? " 

Secesh (with a strong Hibernian accent): "Yes, be 
jabers, and whisky, too." 

Joe: "Come over, and we'll have a quiet smoke! " 

Secesh: "I will meet you half-way." Joe agreed to do 
so, and advanced some distance through brush and water, 
then stopped. 

Secesh: "Where the divil are ye — are ye comin'?" 

Joe: "I'm half-way over now; can't go any further 
without swimming." 

Secesh : " Have ye a boat ? " 

Joe: "No, I haven't." 

Secesh: "Where's yer gun-boat?" 

Joe: "Down taking care of the Merrimac." 

Secesh: " Then come over in the big balloon." (Much 
laughter alonsr the rebel lines.) 


Joe: "Have you a boat? " 

Secesh: "I have, sure, and I'm coming over." 

Joe then enquired the news of the day, and if the Johnny 
had a Norfolk Day Book. 

Secesh replied : "I have. Have you got a Tribune? " 

Joe answered that he had not. 

Secesh : "Where's General Buell ? " 

Joe: "Buell's all right, and surrounds Beauregard." 

Secesh : "Where's General Prentiss ? " 

Joe: "Where's Johnston?" Another rebel laugh. 

Joe: "How about Island No. Ten?" 

Secesh : " That's evacuated." 

Joe: "How is it you left 100 guns and 6,000 prison 
ers? " 

Secesh: "Sure they were not much account." 

Joe: "How about Fort Pulaski? " 

Secesh: "That, me honey, was only a rebel sand bank. 
But tell me, what made ye lave Bull Run ? " 

Richard Blodgett: "We had marching orders." This 
caused great laughter among the rebels, some of them 
exclaiming: "Bully boy." 

Dick : "Where's Zollicoffer ? " 

Secesh: "Gone up the spout." 

Joe: "Why don't you come over? " 

Secesh: "I can't get through the brush." At this 
moment a rebel bullet came whizzing over by our men, and 
Joe angrily inquired who fired. 

Secesh: "Some fool over this way." An order was 

then issued to cease firing. 

Joe: "Aint you coming? What regiment do you 
belong to ? " 

Secesh: "Eighteenth Florida. What doyoubelongto? " 

Joe: "Berdan Sharpshooters." Some of the reb's com- 
rades now warned him to look out. 

Secesh : " Would ve shoot a fellow? " 


Joe: "No! But I will stack arms and smoke with you, if 
you will come over." Here a rebel officer ordered the man 
back, and he refused to communicate further. 


For a considerable time during the siege the enemv had 
a negro rifle shooter in their front who kept up a close fire 
on our men, and, although the distance was great, yet he 
caused more or less annoyance by his persistent shooting. 
On one occasion while at the advanced posts with a detail, 
the writer with his squad had an opportunity to note the 
skill of this determined darky with his well aimed rifle. 
Being stationed at a pit on the edge of a wood fronting the 
treeless stretch of ground around the opposing works, with 
sand bags piled up for cover, during the forenoon this rebel- 
lious black made his appearance by the side of an officer and 
under his direction commenced firing at us. For a long time 
this chance shooting was kept up, the black standing out in 
plain view and coolly drawing bead, but failed to elicit any 
response, our orders being to lie quiet and not be seen. So 
the negro had the shooting all to himself, his pop, pop, 
against the sand bags on the edge of the pit often occurring, 
while other close shots among the trees showed plainly that 
he was a good shot at long range. He became pretty well 
known among the scouts and pickets, and had established 
quite a reputation for marksmanship, before he came to 
grief. Emboldened by his having pretty much all this 
promiscuous shooting unopposed, the pickets rarely firing 
at him, he began to work at shorter distance, taking advan- 
tage of the ground and scattering trees. This -was what 
our men wanted, to get him within more reasonable range, 
not caring to waste ammunition trying to cripple him at 
the long distance he had at first been showing himself. 
They wanted to make sure of him. In the meantime our 
boys would when opportunity offered, without being seen, 


post a man forward to await in concealment for the adven- 
turous darky. The scheme succeeded and his fate was sealed. 
The result was finally announced in the "latest from the 
front," one morning in camp, that "a scouting party hav- 
ing cornered the nigger in a chimney top a quarter of a 
mile distant, where he had been concealed, finally brought 
him down," and thus ended his sport with his life. It was 
said that Sergt. Andrews of Company E (afterwards 
captain) discovered the fellow in the second story of the old 
chimney, — standing monument of destruction, of which 
there were many along this Peninsula route, — and with the 
aid of his fine telescope, found him firing through a hole in 
the back of the fire-place. 

Details of men from the different companies were 
frequently sent out at night in charge of a commissioned 
officer on special service, to assist in protecting the working 
parties. A party under Lieut. Shepard succeeded one dark 
night in establishing a rifle pit within 600 yards of the rebel 
lines. The following morning the enemy discovering what 
had been done, opened furiously with their cannon but with 
little effect. Not being able to drive the riflemen away by 
cannon shot, they tried to drop a mortar shell onto them, 
by sending up on their curved mission three of those 
destructive projectiles. The first one fell short, the second 
was heard to go upward with a slow sound which finally 
for a brief time ceased, but was soon heard coming rapidly 
down directly over their heads, and luckily for the crouching 
party it exploded with a terrific report seventy-five feet 
above, sending the scattering pieces all around but not 
among them. A well aimed shot but a little short. 

"By gosh!" exclaimed a Pennsylvania Dutchman near 
by, "we'll get hit." 

"Hit away, then ! " retorted Bob Casey, of the Sharp- 
shooters, who carried a long and heavy hunting rifle 
brought from Wisconsin. "They can't root us out — we're 


here to star." Nor were they "rooted out " or driven away, 
for after firing mortar No. 3, which came down some dis- 
tance beyond them, phizzing out, failing to explode, going 
two feet into the earth, they ceased their mortar experiments 
and all gave a long breath of relief. 

General McClellan reported : Many times towards the 
end of the month the enemy attempted to drive in our 
pickets and take our rifle pits near Yorktown, but always 
without success. As the seige progressed it was with great 
difficulty that the rifle pits on the right could be excavated 
and held, so little covering could be made against the hot 
fire of the enemy's artillery and infantry. 

On the 24-th. Sergt.-Maj. Horton, temporarily relieved 
for the purpose, was placed in command of a company ot 
scouts, to be employed at the extreme front in guarding 
against surprise while advanced rifle pits were being dug, 
and for such other duties as occasion required. They 
were employed daily, and occasionally at night, until 
the evacuation by the enemy — a period of ten days — their 
service being very severe and full of danger. In the mean- 
time C. A. Stevens, the first sergeant ot Company G, acted 
as sergeant-major. 

On the 28th considerable firing occurred and the enemy 
in front of the scouts appeared to be greatly confused, a num- 
ber of them having been knocked over during the day. 
But that blunders should sometimes occur among the troops, 
and especially in movements after dark, was among the 
dread possibilities, even with the most cautious. A lucky 
oversight occurred that night in which our scouts were the 
chief actors. As it was getting to be quite dark they dis- 
charged their Colts rifles, expecting momentarily to be 
relieved, and wishing to have an opportunity to clean their 
arms on returning to camp, no firing being allowed there. 
Horton had left the pit for the reserve to hurry up the relief, 
and while away the scouts suddenly discovered an unknown 


body of troops advancing from toward the rebel side, 10' 
rods distant. Our boys yelled "Halt!" and although the 
strangers did so, yet came to a full charge; whereupon the 
occupants of the pit scrambled out running to the rear 
where, after retiring a few rods, they began to load. This 
was quickly done, they then watching closely in their efforts 
to distinguish the force in their front. Suddenly a form 
passed in front of them and Joel Parker was about to fire, 
but was stopped by C. N. Jacobs who yelled: "Hold on! 
That's Horton." So it proved, who immediately marched 
them to camp paying little attention to what they said of 
the "rebel attack ; " which proved to be the relief who had 
gone out in a roundabout direction through mistake, and 
on approaching the pit had deployed out, not knowing 
what they might encounter. It was a careless and yet lucky 
act of the scouts in not keeping their guns loaded. Had 
they not been discharged some of them would no doubt 
have been hurt, as the picket would have charged the pit on 
receiving the Sharpshooters' fire when a fatal fight would 
have been the disastrous result. After the Sharps rifles were 
received there was no difficulty of unloading them without 

On another occasion while scouting along the river 
through a grove in the daytime, the scouts came suddenly 
in close contact with the rebel picket posted in a rifle pit 
behind a fence. The first intimation our men had of the foe, 
was a whizzing bullet under Sergt. Joel Parker's ear, where- 
upon he dropped as if shot. " Down, "boys !" he cried in a 
low tone; and as the rest of the party went down, they 
poured a rattling volley into the fence which they then dis- 
covered, sighting a number of heads on the lookout. The 
enemy were taken aback, and in their confusion the scouts 
slipped away without harm. Afterwards, they learned 
from rebel prisoners that their fire had fatal effect on "sev- 
eral of the Johnnies." 



While the enemy occupied a good deal of time trying to 
shell us out, in building the approaches, sending shot and 
shell at times with great rapidity, our own gunners were by 
no means idle, both shore batteries and gunboats respond- 
ing in a manner that showed we were not asleep. So that 
on some days and even nights, there was a perfect uproar 
of speaking cannon, sending a network of.missiles back and 
forth. And our shots were just as well aimed as were those 
of our opponents. In the latter days of the siege, our gun- 
boats succeeded in demolishing several of the big guns as 
well as a portion of the works of the enemy, plowing great 
furrows therein, no doubt making it decidedly uncomfort- 
able for the gray coats, and Yorktown an undesirable place 
to live in at the time. But one of these big guns of the 
Confederates, called by our boys, "Petersburg," was liter- 
ally exploded by our Sharpshooters and in a novel way. It 
appears that Lieut. Bronson (Company F) had early in the 
war, while with Grebel's battery, learned enough of artillery 
practice to understand that sand or gravel thrown into a 
loaded cannon would be very likely to explode it. And while 
out one day (April 30th) with a detachment, observing that 
the muzzle of this gun was surrounded with sand bags, 
ordered his men to shoot at the sand bags as soon as it was 
loaded, to throw sand if possible inside. Then after the 
enemy had fired this particular cannon the thirteenth time, 
our men still peppering the sand bags, it went into the air, 
a thoroughly demoralized, "busted thing." The Sharp- 
shooters had really exploded the big gun. 


On the night of May 1st an exciting affair occurred, in 
which the Wisconsin company lost their first man in action. 


As the time was now fast approaching when the Union com- 
mander would be ready to commence offensive operations, 
fatigue parties were nightly engaged in preparing rifle pits 
on different parts of the plain, between the nearly completed 
works of the Union troops and the formidable ones of the 
enemy. During the night in question, which was a very dark 
one, a detail of Sharpshooters under Lieut. Marble, of Com- 
pany G, were ordered out to protect a fatigue detail of 
infantry in digging an advanced rifle pit in an important 
position. The scouts were sent ahead on a knoll, where they 
lay several paces apart watching sharply through the dense 
darkness. These scouts were: Sergt.-Maj. Horton, Sergt. 
Joel Parker, Corp. C. N. Jacobs, Privates John S. Tillotson, 
Michael Costello and Joseph Durkee, all of Company G. 
The position they occupied was, at the time unknown to 
them, within 40 yards of a rebel rifle pit, and as the fear- 
less Joseph Durkee endeavored to reach another position 
over the knoll, although cautioned by Marble as also the 
rest, before t going forward, not to attempt it, a single shot 
brightened up the black space for a moment, when the brave 
scout rolled over in death, shot through the head. The 
death-like stillness that had prevailed, broken by that soli- 
tary fatal shot, was followed by a terrific volley of mus- 
ketry by the enemy, with rapid discharges of artillery from 
their fortifications, lighting up the atmosphere in terrible 
brightness. The scouts and pickets lay flat on the ground, 
letting the whizzing shots go harmlessly over them. Not so 
with the working detail, who, throwing down picks and 
spades, scampered back in great confusion in the track of 
the murderous fire, towards the Union works. The result 
was, that a number of them were wounded. But not until 
after the firing had ceased did the Sharpshooters move from 
their close position — they knew better. They finally retired 
when all was quiet, and no farther attempt was made to 
continue the work that night. The bodv of Durkee was left 


on the field with his arms and accouterments, his comrades 
being unable to bring them off, but was found after the 
evacuation lying where he fell, and buried on the spot. 
His Colt rifle had been carried off and a note left, statingthe 
regiment that had it, and their determination to have them 
all before long. Evidently were they greatly elated to know 
they had killed a Sharpshooter — the only one they did know 
of, during the siege. Their boast, however, was of no avail, 
as the regiment mentioned was badly cut up at Williams- 
burg during the charge of Hancock's brigade, and the Colt 
rifle recovered. When the 5th Wisconsin met the 5th North 
Carolina in that famous bayonet charge, said to be the first 
effective one of the war, driving back the enemy in confusion, 
capturing their battle-flag bearing the Southern Cross and 
fifteen stars, the slaver of Joe Durkee counted one more "lost 
in action" on the Confederate rolls. The boasting rebel 
enjoyed the possession of his prize biit a short time. A rebel- 
lious newspaper, the Petersburgh Express, spun out the fol- 
lowing yarn in referring to this affair : 

"A McClellan Sharpshooter had been picked off by a 
Kentucky hunter, at two hundred yards distance, and on 
approaching the pit where the Sharpshooter lay, it was 
found to contain a cushioned arm chair, choice liquors and 
segars, and food of the best description." 

Joseph Durkee's death was mourned by his company as 
that of one of their bravest, yet they were not greatly sur- 
prised to hear of it, owing to his predominant daring, 
amounting at times to sheer recklessness. Unfortunately, 
he could not restrain his ardor, but was always ready to 
rush rashly ahead, and nothing but a most imperative com- 
mand or an effective shot, could stop him when he got fairly 
started ; so it was really but a matter of time with Joe. He 
had a younger brother left in the company, James Durkee, 


who with more judgment and a cooler head, made a most 
efficient soldier, and while always on hand in a fight, lived 
throughout his well-served term. 

Individual feats of valor frequently occur in a campaign, 
particularly so in a service like that of the Sharpshooters, 
which are not generally known, or if so, are so similar in 
many respects that they are passed by without credit or 
record. Others there were, who had distinguished themselves 
on trying occasions, and it is one of my purposes in writing 
this history, to give them the credit due them when known 
to be so entitled ; but there were doubtless many incidents 
unknown to the writer, as the regiment was often scattered 
in detached companies. Following, we notice an exploit 
much talked of at the time among "the boys," and noticed 
in the newspapers. 


Among the famous shots of the regiment was a member 
of the New Hampshire company called "Old Seth," who 
was noted for his persistency in using his favorite "tele- 
scope" on all possible occasions. He evinced the greatest 
dislike to laying around camp, and, if not detailed to go to 
the front, would sulk away to his tent, disappointed and 
soured at the "blamed luck" that prevented him from keep- 
ing his pet rifle barrel warm. For some days this happened, 
he constantly bemoaning his fate, fearful that the siege 
would end before his turn came again to go out. Finally in 
the latter days of the besiegement (May 2d), receiving 
orders direct from Col. Berdan to "select a special detail of 
sharp shots for important service, " — which was to get as 
near the enemy as possible and find out what they were 
doing, — I notified the orderly of Company E, that this man 
was wanted ; and he went off, determined to make the most 
of it. Arriving at the front before daybreak, taking in the 
situation of affairs, the scouts deployed out to different rifle 


pits, Seth selecting one far in advance between the lines, and, 
moving cautiously along, succeeded in getting there without 
attracting notice. It proved to be a rebel rifle pit built 
during the night, the enemy intending to occupy it, but Old 
Seth got ahead of them before they were astir, and when 
the Johnnies awoke to the fact that a Yank was in posses- 
sion, their rage and disappointment knew no bounds, and 
they prepared to lay him out. But despite their efforts, they 
never got there, thereafter. For while it would have been 
impossible for Old Seth alone, with his ponderous muzzle- 
loading telescope, to have stopped them, although he made 
his shots count, yet with the breech-loaders behind him, the 
balls rattled in so fast about the rebel pits, that they soon 
.got sick of it, and became effectually whipped. Having 
thus silenced the foe in his front, Old Seth turned his atten- 
tion to larger game, and soon found it in the shape of a 
frowning cannon which had opened on him, breaking their 
shells all around him. It was an ugly customer, and the 
isolated Sharpshooter for once concluded he was in a trap. 
But they had to load, and as this was Seth's opportunity, 
instantly he bravely commenced his work; and so successfully 
did he plant his bullets around the big gun, that it was not 
long before the firing ceased, and he virtually had the can- 
non captured. It was to all intents and purposes his gun— 
they couldn't load it. From that time until the siege was 
over, two days after, the Sharpshooter held his place, keep- 
ing the cannon quiet. Day and night he remained at his 
post; he had got away from camp and was just in his glory, 
with plenty of ammunition, and a fresh supply of water and 
rations furnished him the second day by some of his venture- 
some comrades, before daylight. But they had to crawl to 
do it, for the enemy, although quiet, were on the alert, and 
would doubtless have rushed down on the pit after dark, 
but were evidently afraid of the five-shooters behind Seth, 
from the scouts that lay on the ground watching every 


movement, and listening for every sound — the least noise 
causing a rifle to crack. It was a daring undertaking, an 
important capture, as the cannon in question had been one 
of the most damaging to our working parties at the 
parallels, up to the time George H. Chase commenced firing 
with his 32-pounder rifle. 


On the same day Durkee was killed, before nightfall 
another Sharpshooter, name and company to me unknown, 
while on duty in the most advanced rifle pit at the head oi 
Wormsley's Creek, was struck by a bullet in the abdomen 
and mortally wounded. Col. Berdan coming up, told the 
Sharpshooters they must put a stop to such work of the 
enemy. With his field-glass he then discovered a low mound 
of earth directly in front, but a long way off, and presently, 
what might have been mistaken for a crow seemed to be 
perched thereon. Watching the object steadily for a few 
moments, he saw it disappear and shortly after resume its 
place. Pointing out the spot to Lieut. Wm. Elmendorf, of 
Company^ B, he immediately detailed six men, and placing 
them under command of the lieutenant named, gave him 
the following instructions : 

"Advance under cover of nightfall as far in that direction 
as you deem sufficient, dig a rifle pit for the Sharpshooters, 
and after placing them therein, return to the redoubt and 
await the morning light, and the materialization of that 
crow's head above the mound. And, my men, don't fail to 
to let the daylight through it." Or he might as well have 
said in the language of a war poet : 

"Ah, rifleman, shoot me a fancy shot, 
Straight at the heart of yon prowling vidette; 
Ring me a ball in that glittering spot 
That shines on his breast like an amulet." 

At the appointed time, it being intensely dark, so much 
so as to blot out every land mark, the selected Sharp- 


shooters, accompanied by a working detail from a Maine 
regiment armed with picks and shovels, emerged from the 
redoubt; passing through an apple orchard, taking the 
course as well as they could in the almost utter darkness, they 
cautiously advanced until presumably far enough and halted, 
awaiting the approach of the working force which had for 
some unknown reason not kept up. To dig a rifle pit with 
bayonets would be no easy job, so Elmendorf accompanied 
by another officer started back to find the detail, leaving the 
Sharpshooters in command of a sergeant. The officers 
having lost themselves soon after, resorted to groping care- 
fully about, not daring to call out, occasionally stopping to 
listen for footsteps. Not a single star was to be seen, all 
was inky darkness to them, and the perplexity of the situa- 
tion began to be very uncomfortable, when voices were 
heard, then footsteps. Thinking they had at last come up 
with the strayed fatigue party, they listened again, and to 
their dismay recognized the conversation of a party of Con- 
federates. They immediately dropped and awaited develop- 
ments, hugging the ground close. Yet the situation did not 
improve any, for the approaching footsteps grew nearer and 
nearer. The cracking of a twig beneath them was followed 
by a clicking of gun locks, and a moment later by a shower 
of buck and ball passing over them. Not waiting for their 
opponents to reload and try it again, the officers hastily 
retreated in an oblique direction. Finally hearing more 
voices they now concluded to ascertain who these new 
strangers were, taking the chances of an escape should they 
still prove foes. They couldn't all be rebels on that field. 
In response to their " Halloo ! " came an answer back "dis- 
tressingly close; " in return they cried out "friends without 
the countersign." To which "advance one," was quickly 
retorted, with the admonition to "look out for the 
trenches." Fortunately for this advice they did not plunge 
into them in the dark, but let themselves down carefully, 


when they found they were in the presence of a party of 
Duryea's Zouaves. They had gone a mile out of the way, 
and hurriedly retracing their steps, finally found the fatigue 
party who had in the meantime got up with the advance, 
their delay being caused by stopping to relieve themselves of 
their overcoats and other surplus articles. Advancing some- 
what farther, the pit was dug unmolested, although the 
enemy's shell were continually flying overhead, making a 
pyrotechnic display that helped to light them in their work. 
Soon after daylight that "crow's head " showed up under a 
slouched hat. A second after, a puif of smoke arose from 
the rifle pit — that slouched hat, or what was inside of it, 
must have stopped a bullet, as it was the last seen of it. 
Thus was the colonel's order faithfully carried out, after 
arduous and hazardous service getting into position. The 
above incident shows the dangers incurred by the Union 
soldiers during the siege of Yorktown. 

Continuously from nine a. m. till three p. m. of the 2d 
of May, the enemy kept up a vicious shelling from a six- 
pounder placed in a depression outside their works unseen by 
our men, which evidently obtained the range by signals to 
the gunners from the heights above them. So accurate was 
its aim, that at no time was it safe to arise to a standing 
position, save when the tormentor was allowed to cool off. 
The shells would hit the bank, sending showers of dirt over 
the men, while some would strike inside our works and 
explode, or skip beyond, tearing through the tree tops, drop- 
ping huge limbs, scattering splinters and big chunks of bark. 
Visiting the redoubt, Col. Berdan, although warned of the 
danger, did not leave until he had made his observations, 
and then not until after a shell had exploded in the redoubt, 
when with the remark : "That crow fellow's fun did not last 
him long, did it, boys ? " he concluded to leave the rest of the 
"fun" to "the boys," and retired, after admonishing them 
not to unnecessarily expose themselves. In fact, it was one 



of the standing orders the Sharpshooters had, at this plaee 
and elsewhere, not to "recklessly expose themselves;" to 
take "all possible cover," and to "waste no ammunition for 
the sake of shooting." 


On the night of May 4th the rebel gunners kept up a 
continual fire from their artillery until midnight, when the 
cannonading suddenly ceased. From that time until day- 
light, the Union batteries on the river side fired steadily every 
five minutes. A heavy explosion was heard within the 
enemy's works, and it became evident they were leaving 
Yorktown ; therefore, at just daybreak a movement forward 
was ordered, by the troops on the front line. The scouts 
being present, pushed rapidly ahead notwithstanding an 
objection to their doing so was made by a colonel of some 
other regiment, who evidently wanted to be there first, but 
his protest against the Sharpshooters was not allowed to 
be repeated by Gen. Jameson, who sharply retorted : "The 
Sharpshooters have been at the front during the entire siege, 
and they shall not be displaced now." 

And so it happened that the six scouts : Wm. H. Horton, 
Joel Parker, Caleb N. Jacobs, John S. Tillotson, Henry 
Martin and Oren Yiele, of Company G, and Lieut. Martin V. 
Bronson, of Company F, closely followed by Gen. Jameson 
and another colonel, were of the first to reach the deserted 
works. These were examined very carefully, a deserting 
rebel sergeant informing them of the existence of torpedoes 
throughout the place. James Winchell, of Company D, says 
he advanced also at the same time, with a squad of pickets 
per order of Gen. Jameson, and they went on to the works 
together, where they sighted the sergeant who cried out : 
"For God's sake, don't shoot, boys," and as the general 
was moving forward, yelled to him: "General, don't take 
another step, there is a big shell in front of you. The devils 


have been busy planting them, but I can't tell where thev 
are all placed, but wherever you see fresh earth, look out! " 
And three more rebels after shaking a white rag, delivered 
themselves up to this Company D squad, consisting of Lieut. 
Horace Chase, Sergt. J. E. Hetherington and privates Drake 
and Winchell. These prisoners told the same story about 
the evacuation and were taken to the rear. The scouts 
meantime had gone on to the village of Yorktown and. 
obtained their breakfast. Alter which, on collecting some 
spoils, — knives, lances, tobacco, cigars, etc., — they returned 
to camp, to be received by their excited and overjoyed com- 
rades with the heartiest cheers. Following close after the 
scouts in the advance on the deserted works, was the regular 
Sharpshooter picket under Capt. Drew, who also returned to 
camp well laden with trophies. 

The Wisconsin company of Sharpshooters can rightfully 
claim the honor of being represented by the first ones to 
enter Yorktown on the heels of the retreating foe, and if 
they did not raise the flag on the ramparts, it was because 
it was left in camp, it not being customary for scouting 
parties to carry "company colors" with them. The flag- 
bearer, Henry Martin, was, however, present, and as a sub- 
stitute for planting the colors on the rebel works, he waved 
his dark green cap and yelled like a Trojan. 

Brig.-Gen. Jameson, in his report to Gen. Porter, director 
of the siege, thus states : "At 3 o'clock this morning quite 
heavy explosions were heard in the vicinity of Yorktown, 
and a very bright fire was observed there, * * * About 
half-past three a. m. there were strong indications that the 
rebels had evacuated. Soon after, three soldiers approached 
our lines under a flag of truce. They stated that Yorktown 
was evacuated. In accordance with instructions from you, 
I deployed two companies of the 62d Penn. Vols., together 
with a portion of the Berdan Sharpshooters as skirmishers, 
with a portion of the 22d Mass. as support, and advanced 
cautiously towards the rebel works in front of Yorktown. 


No signs of the rebels were visible as I approached, and I 
had the honor of entering the town at about half past five 
A.M. * * * Most of their guns were left in their works 
loaded and spiked." 

Among the articles brought into the Sharpshooter camp 
was a large sized rebel flag by a member of Company F, 
which was trailed in the dust by the boys through the com- 
pany streets — up or down each street — to regimental head- 
quarters. The colonel galloping in at the same time with 
an engraving of George Washington held on high, taken 
from a deserted rebel house, as he excitedly exhibited the 
same to the rallying men, cheers loud and long greeted its 
appearance. It was a glorious and exciting scene, the bo}^s 
were all happy, hurrahing for everybody and everything in 
sight. The siege had been an arduous and tiresome one, 
and the men w r ere anxious and ready to move forward, 
with hopes of further and greater victories. It was their 
first great success, and they had no thought of what hard 
and trying service awaited them. 

Gen. Porter writes: "Col. Berdan and Lieut. -Col. 
Ripley, of the Sharpshooters, deserve great credit through- 
out the siege for pushing forward the rifle pits close to the 
enemy's works, and keeping down the fire of the enemy's 

Now, while our men at Camp Winfield Scott are rejoic- 
ing over the close of the siege, relating their experiences at 
the front, around their camp fires, I will record the service 
performed by the two detached companies, A and C, men- 
tioned before as having gone to the left, under Maj. Trepp, 
to act as Sharpshooters for the command of Gen. Smith. 
For this account of the arduous duty they performed I am 
indebted to the written report of Capt. Rudolph Aschmann, 
of Company A, translated by Capt. John B. Isler, formerly of 
the same company. 



"In the middle of April, Maj. Trepp received orders to 
report with Companies A and C to Gen. W. F. Smith for 
duty. Smith's division formed the extreme left wing of the 
army. It appeared that the generals had learned to appre- 
ciate the usefulness of the Sharpshooters, for these two com- 
panies were called for, as the troops on the left flank were 
very much annoyed by the enemy's artillery. Here our 
duties were very disagreeable and extremely dangerous. On 
this flank, Warwick creek, a sluggish, unfordable stream, 
separated the two armies. The enemy had their side 
strongly fortified, and where a dam crossed the stream, 
being their weakest point, had planted a battery of artillery 
flanked by rifle pits, which menaced the position Gen. 
Smith's artillery had taken, and endangered the picket line 
in their front. During the night of our arrival, we con- 
structed a rifle pit flanked by fascines as near as 100 yards 
from the enemy's works. While in this, we had to remain 
during the day, and could only leave it at night owing to 
the proximity of the enemy's batteries. Every morning 
before dawn a detachment of Sharpshooters occupied the 
rifle pit, and, remaining 16 hours on duty, were retired at 
night. From this position we watched the movement of the 
enemy's artillery, and made it impossible for them to serve 
their guns any longer. We were all the time in a most 
dangerous position, and lost while performing these duties 
several of our men, among whom was our second sergeant, 
N. Sauer, a most excellent soldier, who was killed in the 
rifle pits April 25th. Success in war demands sacrifices, but 
we accomplished our purpose, and thereby earned the thanks 
of our generals." 


And now, by the time the Union batteries — siege guns 
and mortars — are in readiness for a general bombardment 
along the line of the Warwick, followed by an attack by our 
troops, the enemy quietly slipped away during the night of 
May 3d, and the next morning several deserters under a 
white flag gave the news. Pursuit was immediately ordered 
with the cavalry in advance, and, at nightfall coming up 
with the foe, we prepared for battle, our cavalry having 
made an unsuccessful attack, falling back to the main body. 


Gen. Hancock's brigade having occupied two vacated 
redoubts on the right, being hard pressed and liable to be 
cut off, Gen. McClellan on reaching the field towards the 
close of the afternoon, after a hard ride of 14 miles from 
Yorktown where the guns were plainly heard, ordered three 
brigades to reinforce Hancock, but, he says in his report : 

"Before Gens. Smith and Naglee could reach the field of 
Gen. Hancock's operations, although they moved with 
great rapidity, he had been confronted by a superior force. 
Feigning to retreat slowly, he awaited their onset and then 
turned upon them, and after some terrific vollies of musketry 
he charged them w r ith the bayonet, routing and dispersing 
their whole force, killing, wounding, and capturing from 
500 to 600 men. This was one of the most brilliant engage- 
ments of the war, and Gen. Hancock merits the highest 
praise for the soldierly qualities displayed and his perfect 
appreciation of the vital importance of his position. Night 
put an end to the operations here. * * * The next morn- 
ing the enemy's position was abandoned." 

Casualties at Williamsburg of the Union forces: Killed, 
456; wounded, 1,410; missing, 373; total, 2,239. 


Gen. Hancock in his report of the fight, thus speaks of 
his famous charge, and of his troops in general : 

"The enemy's assault was of the most determined 
character. No troops could have made a more desperate or 
resolute charge. The 5th North Carolina was annihilated. 
Nearly all of its superior officers were left dead or wounded 
on the field. The 24th Virginia suffered greatly in superior 
otficers and men. The battle flag of one of the enemy's 
regiments was captured by the 5th Wisconsin Volunteers, 
and sent by me as a trophy to Gen. Smith. For 600 yards 
in front of our line the whole field was strewn with the 
enemy's dead and wounded. * * * The troops under my 
command behaved with a spirit and steadiness unsurpassed 
by veterans, so much so, that they murmured when ordered 
to fall back from the first position. Having had to detach so 
many at various points as I advanced, and also to protect 
my flanks, my battalions numbered but about 1,600 men 
when I engaged the enemy. By the evidence of an officer 
who noted the time, the action continued t went y -three 
minutes from the time of the enemy's appearance until his 
repulse. When it commenced, the contest in front of Fort 
Mag-ruder appeared to have ended. I learned from the 
prisoners captured that we had been attacked by two 
brigades of infantry, of six regiments, numbering about 
5,000 men and some cavalry. The enemy's advance was 
commanded by Brig.-Gen. Early, who was wounded during 
the action. Our troops at night bivouacked in the rain on 
the ground they had so handsomely won, lying down on 
the battle field, which was saturated by long-continued 

Further extracts are given to show the desperate nature 
of the conflict. Having been well advanced on the front 
lines to the right, the 5th Wisconsin was the last to retire, 
■"disputing the ground inch by inch," and Hancock "only 
waited for that gallant regiment, already sorely pressed by 
the enemy, to get into position," before again advancing to 
attack. As showing how closely they were followed by a too- 
confident foe, bv the time thev had formed in the new line 


among the other troops awaiting them behind the crest, 
Gen. Hancock further says: 

"At this moment the advance of the enemy was under 
the crest and within 30 paces of my command. I ordered a 
forward movement to the crest. The whole line advanced 
cheering, and on arriving there delivered two vollies, doing 
great execution. The order was then given to charge clown 
the slope, and with reiterated cheers the whole command 
advanced in line of battle. A few of the leading spirits of 
the enemy were bayoneted; the remainder then broke and 
fled. The want of protection in my rear, and expecting 
an assault from that quarter every moment, I ordered a 
halt at the foot of the slope, and delivered a terrible fire 
along the whole line, expending from 15 to 20 rounds" 
(per man). "The plunging fire from the redoubt, the direct 
fire from the right, and the oblique fire from the left, were 
so destructive that after it had been ordered to cease and 
the smoke arose, it seemed as if no man had left the ground 
unhurt who had advanced within 500 yards of our line. 
The enemy were completely routed and dispersed." 

It is well to state that the part taken by Gen. Hancock's 
command was the decisive blow, culminating in victory, to 
an all day's fight in front of the rebel Fort Magruder by 
Hooker's division, relieved late in the day short of ammuni- 
tion by Gen. Kearney's troops. 

Companies A and C, of the Sharpshooters, on the morn- 
ing of the 5th were sent to the front and found the enemy 
well intrenched, with whom they exchanged shots until 
afternoon, when they were withdrawn and retired to the 
reserve, being present on that part of the line where 
Hancock made his charge. During the day and a portion 
of the night rain fell almost continually, so that every- 
where about them water and mud prevailed. Our boys had 
taken possession of a barn at nightfall and made every 
preparation possible for comfort until morning; but they 
were doomed to disappointment, being turned out to make 
room for some 200 prisoners. " This treatment," Aschmann 


says, "was well calculated to rouse our ire, but it could 
not be helped, and so we had to exchange our comfortable 
quarters for the open field and its miseries." Had it been 
for wounded men the boys would not have cared; as it was, 
they were very much disposed to growl — they were truly 
"Uncle Sam's Sorry Soldiers" that rough night. The Sharp- 
shooters had to take their share of the hardships with the 
rest of the troops; there were no especial buildings for them, 
but all were treated alike. 

"On the following day we marched over the battle field, 
and witnessed the casualties of warfare. Dead and 
wounded lying uncared for everywhere. A great many of 
the enemy's wounded fell in our hands, and were brought in by 
our men. We camped three days in the vicinity of the battle 
field, marching away on the 9th through the town of 
Williamsburg headed for Richmond. Following the route 
the enemy had taken, we witnessed everywhere evidences of 
his utter demoralization and hasty flight." — Capt. Asch- 

On the 5th marching orders had been received at the 
Sharpshooter camp before Yorktown ; all were packed and 
prepared, but they did not move into the town until the 
7th. Marching four miles they pitched their tents within 
the deserted fortifications in the heart of the village. 
Before starting they were joined by a new company, L, 
which had just arrived from Minnesota — a fine looking 
body of men, that did great credit to that young state. 

A large number of cannon, all their heavy guns and 
ammunition, had been left behind by the enemy, many of 
which were spiked. Torpedoes were also discovered in and 
around the works, brought to light by rebel prisoners; and 
the spot where the murderous missile exploded and killed the 
unfortunate Lathrop of the telegraphic service was marked 
by a large hole in the ground near one of the poles that 
held the elec:ric wire. These prisoners testified to the- 


shooting qualities of the Sharpshooters, who they affirmed 
had made fatal work with the enemy, both on the fortifica- 
tions and in the rifle pits. One old negro expressed his 
opinion in this laconic style: 

"By golly ! Stick up a cap, an' a hole gets in it imme- 

On the 8th the regiment received the long expected 
Sharps rifles, now needed more than ever, as the Colts 
were for our dangerous service found defective in many 
respects, and they gladly turned in the "five shooters." On 
receiving the new arms the men were impatient to get again 
within shooting distance of the enemy. These rifles shot both 
linen and skin cartridges, of 52 caliber, and also had primers, 
little, round, flat coppered things, which were inserted 
below the hammer; but the regular army or hat cap was 
more generally used, as the primers were not always a 
"sure thing; " also carried the angular bayonet. 

While at this place the orderly-sergeant of Company G 
returned to his position in his company at his own request, 
Sergt. Brown, of New Hampshire, succeeding him as acting 
sergt. -major, vice Horton appointed lieutenant of another 
company and afterwards adjutant of the regiment rice 
Willett, resigned. 

York river was at this time full of sailing craft of all 
descriptions. The scene on the water was simply grand, the 
trim white sails in countless numbers standing "off and on," 
while huge steamers moved back and forth, altogether 
presenting a picture of bustle and excitement deserving the 
attention and ready pencil of an artist. It was a complete 
spectacle, and a grand one. Troops were hurriedly embark- 
ing for a move up river, whither the gun-boats had already 
gone, as also the division of Gen. Franklin fresh from 
McDowell's corps on the Rappahannock, which had been 
aboard the transports until after the evacuation, when they 
were pushed ahead by boat to West Point on the Pamunkey, 


where on the morning of the 7th they had a fight lasting 
from 11 to 3, when the enemy retired, "all his attacks 
having been repulsed." 

On the night of the 8th the Sharpshooters left York- 
town by steamer State of Maine, and proceeding to West 
Point, disembarked the afternoon of the 9th by means of 
small boats from steamboat to shore, the water being shal- 
low. They went into temporary camp near the landing. 
It was a sight to see the ship's tackling lift the cattle off the 
boats and drop them into the water. Down they would go, 
almost invariably out of sight, but soon their horns and 
nose would show up, as they swam snorting and plunging 
to shore in countless numbers. Generally, the}- would be 
dropped into the water right side up, but occasionally a slip 
occurred in their struggles, whereby they went down head 
first to plunge about and roll over before they came 
to the surface. But they were patriotic beeves — going to 
meet their destiny. Hundreds of horses were also unloaded 
the same way, and the bovs on the deck would bet their 
hard-tack and tobacco on which equine or bovine would get 
to shore first. 

The battle at this place occurred before our arrival, as 
before stated, and after a sharp action the enemy left. While 
here awaiting orders to move on, the men were employed 
in assisting to remove rations and stores from the row 
boats ; the new company, L, occupying the time drilling in 
the manual, also in skirmishing; and for this latter purpose 
Capt. Drew was detailed to instruct them, assisted a portion 
of the time by his first sergeant. Under Capt. Drew's able 
lessons in this necessary art of the service, the company in 
the brief time given them made great progress, being highly 
complimented therefor. On the 13th the regiment took up the 
line of march, and were destined to experience a full share of 
the hardships and fatigues the Union soldiers had to undergo 
during their stay in the vicinity of Richmond. 



We left West Point at 5 o'clock the morning of May 
13th, loaded down with packed knapsacks and haversacks, 
canteens filled, gun and ammunition. Falling in behind 
artillery and loaded wagons, a most wearisome trip com- 
menced, only an imperfect description of which can be fairly 
given. In fact, only those who have taken part in these 
trying marches can appreciate the hardship incurred. The 
first mile was very fair walking, when we were brought to a 
sudden standstill by the command " Halt ! " Five minutes 
later the bugle sounds the advance, but it is slow traveling 
now, with road narrow, crowded, hot and dusty ; a quarter 
of a mile further on, halt again for three minutes. Advance 
10 rods more — "Halt! "-Men begin to rest their aching 
shoulders by sticking their rifles under their knapsacks, some 
resting on old tree stumps, others lying down stretched out on 
their backs. "Listen boys, there goes the bugle "—Attention ! 
"Fall in— Get up there— Keep in your places— Close up, 
men!" Forward 50 paces and again "Halt!" Now it is 
down on your back, road side, middle of the road — never 
mind the dust — anywhere so you get down. Presently we 
hear: "Open order! " for some mounted officers, or maybe 
a few pieces of artillery. Something the matter ahead — "no 
further movement for a full hour." Off go knapsacks, some 
eat, drink and crack jokes — swap lies — others roll over and 
sleep. All to be startled up into line by that everlasting- 
bugle sounding "Attention! " Then "advance," and away 
we go, two miles now, halting every 10 rods about two 
minutes each time, then another halt. Col. Ripley now 
came along and gave us 20 minutes rest at his own risk, for 
which he received cheers. After a long 20 minutes, at least 
45, we push on 20 rods more and halt again. So it goes all 
day long, pushing ahead, slow time, common time, quick, 


and double-quick to catch up, and sudden halting. All 
mixed up with dust, dirt, sweat and lame shoulders. 
Towards the close of the day a rumor spread among the 
companies that the Sharpshooters were to be sent ahead, 
and that a fight would probably take place. Passing Gen. 
AlcClellan and others at a crossing of roads, helped to con- 
firm the belief of a meeting with the rebels before going 
much farther. The men began to revive in consequence, the 
report acting as a stimulant on their tiresome, dusty march. 
For no matter how worn out and fatigued troops are, 
when they are about to fight, a sort of superhuman second 
strength comes to them, and, forgetful of their past trials, 
the} r rush in, animated as it were with a new life. But it 
proved merely a rumor, although it may have originally 
started on good grounds — perhaps the Johnnies heard the 
Sharpshooters were coming and ran away. It was nearly 
sundown when we reached Cumberland Landing on the 
Pamunkey, after a long day's march of only 12 miles, but 
about the toughest in all our experience, when we pitched 
our ponchos in an old cornfield near the river. Companies 
A and C joined us en route. 

An instance occurred during this march showing how 
easy it is to misjudge the carrying capacity of men by their 
size. One of the six-footer heavy weights of the company 
in the right files where the tallest men are placed, had 
been complaining considerably on account of. his sore 
shoulders, although it was not in a cross manner, he being 
really one of the best natured of men, when he was jokingly 
scolded for his grumbling by the orderly, marching to his 
left — a light weight and much smaller sized man. The result 
was that another heavy member, known as "Buckshot," 
who marched in the center of the company, a tent mate of 
the orderly, made a wager that the latter had the heaviest 
load in the company. This the orderly had no idea was the 
case, although he was carrying besides the usual articles of 


"extras," shoes, etc., extra ammunition and the company 
books. However, when they reached Cumberland they 
weighed up, and sure enough the sergeant's knapsack 
weighed 28 lbs. to 22 for his tent mate, the third heaviest 
being 17, and that was not the big fellow's either. This is 
mentioned as showing that it was not always the biggest 
looking man that stood the greatest " wear and tear." For 
while it is true that there were some heavy men, and the two 
above mentioned were among them, who seemed able to 
stand everything — good marchers, rough and read}' cam- 
paigners—yet is it also true that the light weights, from 
140 down, were unexcelled for all manner of hard service. 

We sometimes hear, out of service, of men carrying 70 
lbs. in their knapsack. But no such back-breaking, side- 
splitting weight was carried by the soldiers — unless some 
unfortunate was working out a sentence, walking a beat 
under guard thus loaded ; in lieu of the ball and chain, or 
log substitutes for thumb-tying, the stocks and other hard 
inflictions. A knapsack must not be shoddy to hold 70 
pounds. In light marching order the knapsack, if carried at 
all, which was hardly the case, had little more within or on 
top than a rolled blanket, sometimes extra rations, and the 
balance of 60 rounds of ammunition that couldn't go in a 
40-round cartridge box. At other times the knapsack 
varied all the way from a new outfit — generally with new 
troops— to the smallest possible kit or supply of extras, 
principally underclothes, poncho or rubber blanket, and 
woolen blanket — overcoats turned in. These all told, with 
the 9 or 10 lb. gun, 40 rounds, canteen of water (pretty 
weighty), haversack packed with hard bread, coffee, sugar, 
and pork boiled or raw, added, 40 pounds would be more 
like it with all accouterments ; and frequently half that 
weight was all the boys carried, particularly when off on 
some hurried service requiring quick movements, wherein 
the weight of the knapsack itself cut no figure. The average 


weight of a knapsack with us on general service would not 
exceed, well packed, 15 pounds. 

Here we rested until the 15th, being ordered into line 
the afternoon of the 14th to be hurriedly reviewed by Secre- 
tary Seward from Washington, accompanied by Gen. 
McClellan and staff. Cumberland Landing, 27 miles from 
Richmond, boasted of two or three old houses, and was 
lined in front with many boats while w r e were there. 

On the 15th another extraordinary day's march 
occurred, over a very wet, muddy road, the rain pouring 
down all the time, stopping often at long periods, and 
accomplishing five miles from half-past six a.m. to four p.m., 
at about which latter hour we arrived at White House. 
The roads were in such a bad state that it often required 
eight or ten horses to move the artillery, the passing 
soldiers assisting in pulling the cannon out of the deep mud 
holes. Owing to the difficulty in transportation, provisions 
were scarce, and short rations in order. 

Gen. McClellan reports: "On the 15th and 16th the 
divisions of Franklin, Smith and Porter were with great 
difficulty moved to White House, 5 miles in advance. So 
bad was the road that the train of one of these divisions 
required 36 hours to pass over this short distance." 

We encamped in a clover field near the White House on 
the Pamunkey, 20 miles northeast of Richmond. This 
building, said to be on the site of the one wherein Washing- 
ton was married, was occupied, and a guard stationed 
around the premises to keep out intruders. It was the prop- 
erty of the Lees, on a plantation of 1,200 acres, with better 
soil than we had yet seen, a part of which was sowed with 
wheat; and were it not for the existing military surround- 
ings would have presented a very domestic appearance. A 
pretty spot, accessible by steamers and sailing craft from 
York river; many vessels of different kinds lining the shore 
close by, loaded with provisions and other necessary 


articles for the army. The railroad to Richmond crossed 
the river at this point previous to the destruction of the 
bridge. We were in the midst of a splendid clover field of 
many acres, while above us, on the opposite side of the road, 
was a fine old apple orchard of 75 trees. Numberless small 
tents, amid which waved the regimental colors, denoted the 
different bodies of troops that encamped around us. The 
beautiful growing fields were soon trampled into dust and 
destroyed, as the Union troops crossed over them. And 
feelings of pity must have possessed thoughtful minds to see 
that hitherto quiet and peaceable spot, indicative of the 
days of joy and contentment when the gallant cavalier 
George Washington became a loving visitor, now subjected 
to the ruthless tramp of the armed soldier, the iron hoof of 
the plunging steed and the deep ruts of the ponderous artil- 

"Oh grief! o'er 3 r on fair meads and smiling lawns 
Must steeds of carnage batten, men of blood 
Their fell magnificence of murtherous pomp 
Pavillion in yon placid groves of peace." 

As an illustration of the fact that it wasn't bullets 
alone that decreased the army rolls, especially on this cam- 
paign, a young man named Isaac M. Barker, of the Wiscon- 
sin company, died on the 18th of May at West Point where 
he had been left with the commissary department when the 
company moved from there, from the effects of vaccination, 
his arm having swelled to a great degree. More men died 
or were discharged from sickness than were lost in battle. 
The tough marches they had to undergo caused many of 
them to break down and become unfit for further active 
service. Later on, they became so inured to these hard 
services as to appear able to stand almost anything in that 
line. But it took considerable time to make them so perfect, 
and many fell by the roadside before that great desideratum 
of a soldier's life was fairly accomplished. 


Striking tents on the 19th the troops moved on towards 
the Chickahominy, passing by Tunstall Station and 
Barker's Mills. White flags were freely displayed from the 
houses on the way, and oftentimes the provost guard were 
stationed around residences to satisfy the defenseless 
inmates that no harm was intended or would be allowed by 
the Union troops; which appeared to gratify as well as to 
surprise many, as they had been led to believe by the rebel 
officers and soldiers that we were bound to plunder them. 
But plunder was not what we were after. Reports had been 
falsely circulated among these people that the Union troops 
were driving the women and children from Williamsburg 
forward; at the same time they admitted that the rebel 
soldier}' did pillage to a great extent before leaving. 

At Barker's Mills the regiment encamped from the 22d 
to the 26th, in a pleasant grassy spot near a heavy belt of 
timber, with good water easily obtained, and it proved to 
be a long time before they found such another favorable 
camping ground. We purchased while at this camp many 
articles of provisions, such as sweet potatoes $2 per bushel, 
onions 25 cents a dozen, eggs 50 cents, chickens 75 cents 
each, and other things at pretty steep prices. The gold and 
silver paid the inhabitants therefor, they stated was the 
first hard coin they had handled or even seen for a long 
time. They did not appear to have a high appreciation of 
Confederate scrip, some of whom had a large supply of 
that valueless paper on hand. One of our men, William B. 
Sandel, visited a house close by, before the provost got his 
guard stationed, and inquired for eggs. The mistress stated 
that an officer had engaged all she had, but Sandel, deter- 
mined not to be put off in that way, said positively that he 
must have a half dozen, and to her inquiry as to how she 
was to manage it, replied: 

"Well, give me six eggs, and then give the officer if he 
comes, all you have. You need not tell him I had any." 


A good-natured looking daughter hereupon with .-i 
laugh, declared that a Yankee trick, and gave the eggs. 

During the forenoon of the 26th, we went into camp on 
Gaines 1 Hill, from the high grounds of which the city of 
Richmond could be seen in the distance, beyond the Chicka- 
hominy river which ran by us at the foot of the hill. 


May 27, 1862. 

On the 27th of May at an early hour, before daylight, 
the Sharpshooters rolled out of their tents and fell into line, 
the rain falling fast ; orders being received to march at day- 
light, with three days' cooked rations and 100 rounds of 
ammunition. Leaving camp at four a. m., the regiment as 
part of Gen. Porter's newly organized 5th corps, made a 
forced march of 18 miles to the right, notwithstand- 
ing the heavy rain falling, the deep mud, and swollen creeks 
which they forded, and arrived about noon in the vicinity 
of Hanover Court House. . The enemy had for several days 
been posting large bodies of troops on the right flank and 
in rear of the Union lines, threatening our communications 
with the Pamunkey and York rivers, whereby he could be in 
position to help the rebel Jackson; and attack Gen. 
McDowell should the latter leave Fredericksburg to rein- 
force Gen. McClellan, as it was expected he would, and 
whose advance was then eight miles south of the Rappa- 
hannock. For the purpose of driving this force back, and 
to cut the Virginia Central, and Richmond & Fredericksburg 
railroads, was this sudden movement of Gen. Porter's com- 
mand decided on. 

No movement could have been more quickly executed, 
and nothing could exceed Gen. McClellan's promptness here; 


as at Hampton in moving after his arrival from Washing- 
ton immediately on Yorktown, as also at Williamsburg 
and at West Point. The critic that intimates tardiness in 
the movements of the Army of the Potomac on the Penin- 
sula campaign, is false as to the facts, and does an injustice 
to officers and men. From the first, there was no delay in 
movingwhen the order came; from Hampton to Yorktown, 
from Yorktown to the Chickahominy; and before daylight 
of the next morning after reaching the last named line^ 
Porter's corps was off on a hurried march 18 miles* to the 
right, through the heaviest rain and deepest mud, to win an 
important victory. We dare to say that no army ever 
moved quicker or with more determination, than the Army 
of the Potomac on the Peninsula campaign. 

As a fair instance of how our soldiers suffered by these 
hurried, fatiguing marches regardless of the weather, to get 
into action, and which too often occurred when they were 
better fitted to sleep than fight— but for the martial and 
heroic excitement that kept them up— we quote Gen. Butter- 
field on his brigade : 

"Our march to the battle field near Hanover Court 
House was the most severe I have ever experienced. 4 
Half an hour before the hght began I hardly thought it pos- 
sible for my men to pitch camp and prepare supper, so much 
fatigued were they with the march in mud, rain and sun." 

As before said, too often was this the case that our 
soldiers went into the fight all but worn out and used up 
with fatigue; nothing but patriotic excitement and stern 
duty kept them up. 

By the time our regiment had arrived at the front, lead- 
ing Morell's division, and preceded only by a strong detach- 

* The distance reported by some officers — 14 miles — may have been correct by 
the map; but by the roads traveled and the time taken we figured it out 18. It 
might have been 14 miles on horseback, but we guess it was fully lrf afoot. 
McClellan's chief of staff, Gen. Marcy, reports the march as "more than 2» 


tnent of cavalry and some light artillery (Benson's) under 
Gen. Emoiw, the rain had stopped and the sun came out hot, 
which while it dried the soaking water from the soldiers' 
clothes, brought the perspiration within. It was a veritable 
scorcher. Advancing through a large field by the right 
flank, the Sharpshooters halted and formed line of battle on 
the right of the road at 

kinney's farm, 

being about 400 yards from the enemy who were in a lane 
behind a rise of ground covered with wheat, sending down 
to our artillery a shower of bullets and canister shot. 
Quickly the Union cannon responded, while skirmishers in 
front became engaged. As we entered the field, the enemy 
were loudly cheering over their capture of a company of 
skirmishers from the 25th New York, sent out with cavalry, 
while a small rebel flag was defiantly waved from the lane. 
This was soon lowered, however, and the cheering stopped 
bv the Union guns. Remaining in line some minutes under 
fire, orders were finally given to move forward, several mem- 
bers of the regiment being hit at this point. Our men were 
divided; a portion crossed to the left of the road under 
Ripley, the lieutenant-colonel, and advancing in skirmish 
line through the wheat fiel.d took part in the capture of a 
rebel cannon. On the right of the road the Wisconsin and 
Swiss companies deployed as skirmishers through a small 
wood and into a large field beyond, Company I, of Michi- 
gan, following as a reserve, under command of Trepp, the 
major — Col. Berdan having general command of all the 
Sharpshooters. The enemy fled, our men pressing steadily 
forward two miles further, passing a number of rebel sur- 
geons who were busily engaged with the wounded. The 
Wisconsin men captured some prisoners, among them a 


North Carolina lieutenant who claimed to be "too exhausted 
to run." We didn't blame him for being frightened a little, 
for our men came down on them with a rush — there was no 
halting after thej got started. The Johnnies were surprised, 
it was done so quick — their loss here being 17 killed, 27 
wounded, and 31 prisoners. 

The cavalry and artillery had in the meantime pushed 
on in flying style after the fugitives, capturing more of them. 
Those members of the 25th New York that had been taken, 
succeeded in escaping from the enemy during the chase. So 
far, so good. Everything went off just as nicely as the 
most ardent patriot could have expected. It was sport for 
the boys. But it appears that the enemy's main force were 
some distance to the left of the scene of the first fight, 
massed for mischief, and after the victorious Unionists had 
passed by, made an attack on our rear at 


The 44th New York, 25th New York, and 2d Maine, 
under Gen. Martindale, were for a long time hotly engaged 
at this point, exposed to cross-fires from surrounding 
woods ; but although many gallants fell, yet bravely did 
the little command hold their ground. On hearing of the 
attack the advanced troops were ordered back, and away 
went infantry, zouaves, artillery, and Sharpshooters at a 
rapid pace, fin ally on double-quick towards the woods where 
lay concealed the rebel force. Regiment after regiment 
rushed running into line when near the woods, and with a 
loud hurrah, moving right on, charged fiercely through the 
timber. The Sharpshooters deployed out double-quick, and 
entering the wood hurried forward. Some of them became 
immediately engaged, but the main body were brought sud- 
denly to a halt by a deep ditch before a second piece of 
woods. Scrambling through this they' pushed rapidly 


.ahead. The firing was loud and rapid, while the dense 
smoke rolled low in heavy clouds rendering objects indis- 
tinct. The rebels were driven out from the wood, over the 
road, down the railroad, through a wheat field, and beyond 
to another wood a mile off. They were badly cut up — dead 
and wounded lying all around. The Unionists fought well ; 
the 44th and 25th New York, 2d Maine, 9th (Irish) Mas- 
sachusetts, 62d Pennsylvania, 5th New York (with their 
flaming red costume), and the 1st U. S. Sharpshooters 
(dressed in dark green). Other regiments were on the field 
and took a prominent part, principally on the flanks ; but 
those above named were in the hottest of the fight, and 
were the principal ones engaged in the immediate front of 
the enemy. The Union loss was quite heavy among the 
three regiments first mentioned, but it was not as great as 
that of the Confederates. 

The rebels were completely routed, leaving knapsacks, 
blankets and guns scattered promiscuously about, and get- 
ting away themselves evidently in much confusion. The bat- 
teries were well worked, sending screeching shot and shell after 
the retreating forces. Capt. Griffin used his guns with great 
effect; a rebel shot killing one of his horses, from a gun 
down the road, he turned on it instantly, sighting and 
firing the cannon himself, putting a shell through their 
caisson, which blew up, scattering the fragments over the 
road, causing the enemy to scamper hurriedly. About sun- 
set the battle was over. 

A large number of the rebel dead were buried the follow- 
ing day, upwards of 700 prisoners taken, with one gun and 
considerable amount of small arms and baggage. The 
Union troops sticceeded in cutting the railroads, driving the 
rebel forces off. The latter at this battle were commanded 
by Gen. Branch, of North Carolina (an ex-member of con- 


The regimental surgeon, Guy C. Marshall, was taken 
prisoner at field hospital by rebel cavalry and never returned 
to the regiment ; while his hospital attendant, Charles L. 
Wood, a New York member of Company G, had a narrow 
escape from a shower of bullets from the same party, who 
left him lying on the ground unhurt. In his desperate fix 
he dropped as if shot, and they thought he was. Charlie 
was a good one, and like a true patriot didn't want to be 
captured — and never was to the end of his three years. Dr. 
Marshall died while a prisoner, after having performed 
noble service among the sick and wounded at Libby prison. 
Having been allowed to pass out when needing medicines, 
he finally, finding his many protests unheeded relative to the 
apparent neglect and sufferings of our imprisoned soldiers, 
obtained an audience with Jeff Davis, the Confederate presi- 
dent. Whether on account of his earnest denunciation of 
the treatment our men were receiving, or in any other man- 
ner he angered the chief traitor, his liberty was taken from 
him and he was closely confined. Even then he did all pos- 
sible to help his comrades, until breaking down himself, he 
died a real martyr to the Union cause, a true patriot, an 
heroic man. He had been very popular in his regiment. 

A number of prisoners were captured by the Sharp- 
shooters; among the lot were three captured b} r Private 
Benjamin D. Atwell, of Wisconsin, a youth 18 years of 
age. Pushingthrough the dense woods with Eli Vincent, they 
found a chance to shoot from behind a tree, when as Ben 
was about to fire, he looked back and discovered three rebels 
capping their guns, with their backs towards him. Rushing 
close up, he ordered them to "throw down those guns, 3 r ou 
rascals, or I'll shoot you!" They obeyed instantly and 
turning around replied: "We are j^our prisoners." The 
trio consisted of a second lieutenant, an orderly sergeant, 
and a private. Ben had "surrounded them," surely as he 
passing, but what to do with them 


puzzled him, especially after calling to Vincent to return 
and help him, who, replying harshly: "Take care of them 
yourself, I've got something else to attend to," was rapidly 
moving forward. Ben, however, shouldered their guns and 
marched them to the rear to the provost guard. His excited 
companion pushed forward through the timber with long 
strides until brought suddenly to a halt. An intrenched 
rebel behind a log a few paces distant had raised his piece 
and was about to pull the trigger, but being discovered, Eli 
quickly brought his rifle to his shoulder and fired— stopping 
but a moment to "mark the shot," he went on. 

When the Sharpshooters went into the second fight the 
heat of the day was intense, and from the effect of their 
previous exertions in marching and fighting they were very 
much fatigued ; therefore on receiving orders to assemble 
on the road they were not sorry, as darkness was fast 
gathering and the fighting was over. It's true a number of 
them wished to push further on over the open field, but 
were restrained on the edge of the woods owing to a peremp- 
tory order to halt at that place and assemble. The regi- 
ment rested for the night in a piece of woods near by. 
During the following day many prisoners were brought in 
by our troops, who were also engaged in burying the dead. 
The trees, brush, and riddled fences, showed plainly the 
fierceness of the conflict. 

A number of individual cases of self-defense occurred in 
this battle. One of the most provoking, and also comical, 
took place in the evening. A plucky little member of the 9th 
Massachusetts, having been slapped across the mouth and 
sent reeling to the ground by a large, corpulent looking reb, 
in response to the Irishman's demand to surrender, got even 
with the big fat Carolinian, after picking himself up and 
making a big race for it, by using the bayonet; to use his 
own phrase: "tickling him in the stomach." 


While in this neighborhood, H.J. Peck, of Company F, 
secured an officer who was hurrying down the road: 

"Come over here, colonel, I want you." 
yelled Peck, and as the officer turned he saw a well-aimed 
Sharps covering him. It was enough, he came in, — a second 
lieutenant of the 7th North Carolina,— and the Vermont boy 
passed him to the rear, after securing his revolver and 
sword. A member of Company L also captured two men, 
after the fighting had ceased, while he was hunting for fuel 
in the woods. 

Considerable amusement was caused by a member of 
Company G, who was known as "Snap Shot, "throwing off 
his coat before entering the last battle, discovering to his 
comrades a mailed or steel shirt which he hurriedly divested 
himself of, remarking: "I have carried that weighty 
nuisance long enough." He had worn it on all the long and 
tiresome marches, and when he got into the fight, threw it 

The regimental loss at Hanover was 20 killed and 
wounded. Among the latter was Sergt. Lewis J. Allen, of 
Company F, who got a whack side of the head, knocking 
him flat in the wheat field. Some of the boys rushed for him, 
but he got up and ran wildly ahead. He was caught by Peck 
and brought back, being a little off in his mind just then, 
but came around all right soon after. He proved a stayer, 
and remained with his company throughout the enlistment, 
in all its trials and hardships. Sometime after, he was 
attacked with brain fever which he attributed to that blow, 
but recovered. 

Gen. McClellan arriving next morning was greeted by 
the troops with the loudest cheers. While here he sent the 
following dispatch to the war department: 

Hanover Court House, May 28, 2 p. m. 
Porter's action of yesterday was truly a glorious vie 
torv. Too much credit cannot be given to his magnificent 



division and its accomplished leader. The rout of the rebels 
was complete — not a defeat, but a complete rout. Prisoners 
are constantly coming in; two companies have this moment 
arrived, with excellent arms. There is no doubt that the 
enemy are concentrating everything on Richmond. I will 
do mv best to cut off Jackson, but am doubtful whether I 
can. It is the policy and duty of the government to send me 
by water all the well-drilled troops available. I am confi- 
dent that Washington is in no danger. Engines and cars in 
large numbers have been sent up to bring down Jackson's 
command. I may not be able to cut them off, but will fry. 
We have cut all but the Fredericksburg & Richmond 
railroad. The real issue is the battle about to be fought in 
front of Richmond. All our available troops should be col- 
lected here — not raw regiments, but the well-drilled troops. 
It cannot be ignored that a desperate battle is before us. If 
any regiments of good troops remain unemployed it will be 
an irreparable fault committed. 

Geo. B. McClellan, Maj.-Gen. 
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War. 

Gen. Porter in his report of this engagement thus speaks 
of his command, which consisted of the following troops: 
Gen. Morell commanding division composed of Gens. Martin- 
dale and Butterfield's, and Col. McQuade's brigades; two 
regiments of cavalry and a light battery, under Gen. Emory; 
and Col. Warren's brigade. He reports : 

"The defeat and rout at Hanoverof Brig. -Gen. Branch's 
command, — 8,000 Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia 
troops, — with the loss to them of eight officers and more 
than 1,000 men; the destruction of extensive bridges, rail- 
road and others; cutting off the rebel force in Northeastern 
Virginia from all rapid relief from Richmond; and themove- 
ments of Col. Warren's command from Old Church along 
the Pamunkey, has caused the rapid retreat to Richmond 
from below Fredericksburg of Gen. Anderson's command; 
thus releasing for active operations the large force underGen. 
McDowell, and I think must have relieved the government 
of all apprehensions of an attack on Washington. Two 
important military railroad trains were captured and 


destroyed b} T Gen. Stoneman's and Gen. Emory's com- 
mands, respectively. * * * I desire to express my admira- 
tion for the conduct of the officers and men in the laborious 
march to Hanover; the steadiness with which they turned 
from the pursuit of a retreating foe to meet the unexpected 
attack of an unknown force in their rear; the confidence 
they evinced in their officers ; the good order in which they 
went into action. Specially worthy .of note was the firm 
resistance Martindale's brigade presented to the attack of a 
superior force, holding it in check till it could be met and 
routed by the remainder of the division." 


Co. A — Wounded : Martin Tanner, Jacob Wildz. 

Co. B— Wounded : Clinton Loveridge, severely. 

Co. F — Wounded: Lewis J. Allen, Benjamin Billings, W. 
F. Dawson mortally. 

Co. G— Wounded: Corp. Hiram N. Richardson, scalp, 
and one finger lost. 

Co. I — Wounded: James Davis. 

Co. L — Wounded: Hammond Fallon, Fingor Fingal- 

On the morning of the 29th rations were brought up 
and dealt out to the very hungry troops, but in the after- 
noon we marched back to camp at Gaines' Hill, where the 
sick and guards had been left during the movement, and 
where we arrived after another fatiguing trip at a late hour 
at night. Capt. Aschmann relates the following incident of 
this tough march: 

"The darkness of the night, bad roads, and the many 
swamps and forests we had to pass, made our march very 
difficult and dangerous. One of our men, Jacob Bachman, 
sank up to his arm pits in the mire, and it was impossible 
for him to extricate himself from his perilous position until 
the next morning, when some stragglers found him and 
brought him exhausted and worn out to our camp, where he 


recovered from the terrible shock to his system only after 
many weeks of careful treatment." 

While at the Gaines' Hill camp we were visited by a ter- 
rific thunderstorm, the lightning striking a stack of guns of 
an adjoining regiment scattering the same, the fiery ball 
playing along the entire line of shining bayonets, causing 
some damage to life and property. The rain poured down 
in torrents, so that tent life was anything but agreeable 
just then either for health or comfort, and the sick list nat- 
urally increased from the dampness and exposure. 

Our rations, though not extensive in variety, were gener- 
ally fresh and good. But it was impossible for some of the 
men to stand dessicated vegetable. The Wisconsin orderly 
liked it, and on introducing it at this camp was particular 
to praise its wholesomeness. But the next morning when 
he rolled out for roll call, he found himself surrounded with all 
the camp kettles full of the dessicated soup, contributed by 
the boys, as they could n't stand the flavor. It was issued 
in big, square, pressed cakes about an inch thick, and a 
small piece made a mess — a little went a good ways. But 
they had cooked the entire week's ration, a whole square, 
thus making it too strong,— they could smell it from afar 
off, — and it took more than a week's scouring of the kettles 
with a vast amount of cook's swearing, to get rid of the 
offensive taste. As for the orderly, he had enough to last 
him for a whole campaign, and didn't draw any more of 
that kind of ration. 

Soon after the Hanover fights, Company L left the regi- 
ment (May 31st) and reported to the 1st Minnesota 
volunteers in the 2d corps, and thereafter remained with, 
and shared in the glories and honors of, that famous regi- 
ment—that gallant 1st Minnesota which, with the brave 
and undaunted 2d Wisconsin, so ably represented the 
Northwest at the first Bull Run, where they both, in several 
notable instances, withstood the brunt of battle, and left 


that fated field at the last moment unwhipped and with 
colors untarnished ; and although at the time, the eastern 
press teemed with praises and sensational articles about 
certain regiments from their immediate localities, without 
even a bare mention of the two now under notice, yet on 
the records are they placed, as 'tis due them, among the 
staunchest there engaged. Probably this apparent ignoring 
of the western men can be accounted for, because, Gorman 
and Coon "couldn't see" the reporter's demand to "come 
down" to the extent of $50, before going into the fight. 
Their reply in substance : "If my men get a name, they must 
earn it," settled it. They were not heralded after the fight* 
but they got name and fame notwithstanding, that will 
last, and they earned it. 

On the afternoon of the 31st the guns at Fair Oaks 
were distinctly heard, and several times was the regiment 
ordered into line expecting to move forward. On this day 
the Sharpshooters joined Gen. Martindale's brigade for a 
short time, and at an early hour on the morning of June 
1st they left camp, and, marching a mile and a half to the 
swamp of the Chick ahominy, relieved Stockton's Michigan 
regiment as pickets, where they remained until noon of the 
following day, being then relieved by the 4th Michigan. 
The heavy firing during the fight at Fair Oaks on the other 
side of the river plainly indicated the severity of the action. 
On the hills back of the pickets, artillery were in position, 
and above them in the air were two balloons some distance 
apart, while in the neighborhood of the swamp fatigue 
parties were busily engaged building roads and bridges. A 
squad of men under Corp. Harmon Ellis, of Company G, 
were employed as guard over the house and premises of 
Dr. Gaines, near by. The doctor was under arrest for sig- 
naling the enemy across the swamp. He did not get away 
in time and was caught in his own house, but attempting 
to escape, Ellis aimed his gun an 1 stopped him. The doctor 


complained about the Yankee soldiers ruining his plantation, 
and his "niggers" not getting enough to eat. He knew 
nothing civil towards a "Yankee hireling." He was an 
insolent old fellow and the boys watched him closely. The 
last Ellis saw of him, on his guard being relieved, he was in 
the midst of a lot of other prisoners awaiting under an 
umbrella for transportation to Yankeedom, where it was 
hoped he would learn manners. On the afternoon of the 
2d the regiment returned to camp. 

Considerable excitement was occasioned at times during 
the ascension of the balloons, inasmuch as they became a 
target for the rebel cannon posted on high ground across 
the swamp. The balloons would be sent up from different 
points, and as soon as the rebel gunners obtained range 
they would come down, and change their position. A rope 
attached prevented their ascent beyond a certain distance, 
and they became a valuable auxiliary for the occasion. 


A comrade sends an account (somewhat lengthy) of how 
Porter's chief of artillery wanted four men and a sergeant 
to go on to Grapevine Bridge in the swamp and watch the 
enemy's movements, and in case they attempted to cross 
from the connecting bridge over the river, threatening to 
attack our batteries, to fire a signal shot for our artillery to 
open their "50 guns" onto the unseen foe as they crowded 
onto the bridge, Sharpshooters and all, as the artillery 
officer had kindly informed the detail on setting out that 
they would all be sacrificed, as "we could not risk a serious 
disaster to this wing of the army for a few men;" which 
comforting assurance was probably more to test their 
courage, but they were picked men, volunteers, and didn't 
scare worth a cent; besides they undoubtedly were unwill- 
ing to believe that our battery men would knowingly mow 
down Union soldiers to gain a moment's time, while our 


nimble Yankee boys were jumping and dodging about to get 
out of range. 

The swamp had been flooded by some device of the 
enemy, either by cutting a dam above or erecting one below, 
I am unable to say which, and the water was several feet 
deep over a space of about 400 yards in width on 
our side of the river at a point where Grapevine Bridge 
crossed it. This bridge over the swamp was a floating one, 
and moored by great grapevines attached to the scattering 
live oaks that stood about the swamp, in some cases with 
several feet of their roots out of the ground, like trees on stilts. 
From the approaching sounds of the battle it seemed 
probable that the enemy might presently get possession of 
the bridge over the river, which stream was narrow and 
deep. The bridge over the swamp, as well as the whole of 
that over the river, could not be seen from the height where 
the guns were. After several hours anxious waiting the 
Sharpshooters observed that the advancing enemy were 
being suddenly driven back, in which Meagher's and Sickles' 
brigades took a prominent part, thus relieving the watchful 
sentinels of any further danger either from the enemy, or 
of being blown by our artillery to Hail Columbia. 

On the 6th of June orders were received to divide the 
regiment into detachments to report to different division 
commanders, fourcompanies remaining at headquarters — D, 
E, F and K. Company B was sent to Hooker's division, 
and Company H to Richardson's. Company H reported to 
Sumner's headquarters at Seven Pines, where the Confed- 
erate sharpshooters were annoying our pickets. On arriv- 
ing there a detail was sent to the front, where, despite the 
danger incurred at the time from the sharp firing as they 
approached, they succeeded in discovering the position of 
the enemy and stopped their shooting. The rebel sharp- 
shooters soon found their match before them, and were 
thereafter very careful about exposing themselves. One 


morning soon after, a detachment under First Sergt. 
Barrett was scat across the "Nine-mile Road" to look after 
a part of the regular picket line, where several of our 
infantry men had been shot. Locating the enemy's posi- 
tion, four of our Sharpshooters deployed, two on each side 
of the road, and advanced carefully through the brush some 
200 yards where they lay quietly watching for further devel- 
opments; but seeing or hearing nothing they rigged up a 
stick with a hat and coat, and shoved it out across the 
roadway, when instantly a report was heard and a bullet 
passed through the coat. The puff of smoke seeming to 
issue from the center of a tree 100 yards distant, the Sharp- 
shooters then crawled forward either side of the road, keep- 
ing under cover as much as possible, firing at the right and 
left side of the tree, the result being of a very damaging 
character to the concealed Johnny, he receiving his quietus. 
The company was frequently called on to perform service of 
this kind, to locate lurking foes and silence their guns. 

Companies A and I, under command of Maj. Trepp, 
were assigned to Gen. Smith's division on the right 
wing of the troops, the south side of the Chickahominy, 
opposite Porter's corps on Gaines' Hill. Gen. Smith received 
the Sharpshooters again with a hearty welcome, at the same 
time providing for them in the best possible manner, which 
told more than words, and the boys thought a good deal of 
" Baldy Smith " which was right, for when soldiers have the 
respect of their officers, and officers have the respect of the 
soldiers, they can be depended upon for the most arduous 
and trying duties. Such was the fortunate case here, a 
mutual respect for each other. 

The Sharpshooters occupied a redoubt called Fort 
Davidson, manned also by a battery of 12-pound Parrot 
guns. This garrison was placed under command of Maj. 
Trepp. They were ordered under arms every morning at 
daylight to guard against an attack on the fort. They also 


furnished daily 12 Sharpshooters for the picket lines where 
skirmishing was going on far in advance, with the enemy 
scarcely 150 yards away — within speaking distance. Artil- 
lery duels were frequent, and on several occasions the enemy 
made ineffectual sorties, being invariably driven back. One 
of the enemy's guns considerably annoyed Gen. Smith's 
troops with more or less damage, whereupon that wise 
officer had constructed a rifle pit for the Sharpshooters, who 
soon thereafter silenced it. Our troops suffered the most 
from sickness, "the sanitary condition being deplorable, 
owing to the fatigues the men had undergone recenth', and 
typhus, dysentery and other diseases of a dangerous type 
spread with fearful rapidity, so that the sick list swelled to 
great proportions, and interfered considerably with the 
efficiency of the men. The field hospitals were rapidly filling 
up, and more than one-third of the men in our detachment 
were on the sick list." — Aschmaxn. 

Companies C and G left the regimental camp and, 
marching several miles to the right, reported to Gen.Slocum 
for duty. This detachment was commanded by Capt. Drew, 
of G. Going into temporary camp near the Chickahominy, 
a scouting party of 10 men was sent out to reconnoiter the 
front. Picket details were ordered daily to 


and several skirmishes occurred. On one occasion the}- had 
a hot time of it, on account of the severe fire of the enemy, — 
a miniature battle, — our pickets having been caught in the 
swamp knee deep in water, when the rebel pickets opened on 
them heavily, causing several narrow escapes, but without 
loss. The fighting was severe for awhile, our men returning 
the fire in sheer desperation, and with success. But they 
came out of the swamp in a sorry condition, wet through 
and covered with mud. Thev could fig-lit on fair around. 


but to swim and fight was a disadvantage they did not like. 
During one of these picket skirmishes (June 2d) John S.Cole, 
of Company C, was killed. Company B also had a sharp 
fight, later on, near Fair Oaks. 

On the 11th the Michigan men, under Capt. Giroux, 
(Company C), were ordered off still further to the right, to 
Mechanicsville, leaving Company G alone, who were 
employed on picket duty at the front until the 13th when, 
striking tents, they joined Company C at Mechanicsville. 
This place had been considerably battered by shot and shell, 
the marks of which were plainly observed on the deserted 
buildings. It was not a very pleasant camping ground, an 
unhealthy odor pervading the place. 

During this month the regiment lost several members by 
fever at the hospital on Gaines' Hill; among them, Corp. 
Gideon F. Jones, of Company G. His remains were taken to 
his friends in Wisconsin by Thomas McCaul, of the com- 
missary department, who eluded the vigilance of the guards 
at White House landing, Fortress Monroe and Baltimore, 
and who, although absent without leave, — he actually stole 
his lost friend out of camp, — was willing to risk a punish- 
ment to have it go through safely. The dead soldier was 
buried at Fox Lake, and a handsome headstone illustrating 
the Sharpshooter service, erected by the citizens of East 
Randolph, where Jones resided at the time of enlistment. 

Early on the morning of the 15th the two companies 
made a movement to the right expecting an attack, but 
returned a few hours later, and on the 17th camp was 
changed three-fourths of a mile to the right, between two 
small hills out of sight of the rebel artillerists, who were 
watching with their guns planted on the high hills on the 
south side of the Chickahominy. The church steeples of the 
rebel capitol could be seen from this point, four miles dis- 
tant. On the 19th they again broke camp, and, marching 
with Gen. Taylor's Jersey brigade, after a hot and dust}' 


tramp crossed the Chickahominy at Woodbury's Bridge, on 
the left of and below Gaines' Hill, and camped at Fair Oaks 
— a distance of about 12 miles. The division of Gen. 
Slocum was relieved at Mechanicsville by that of Gen. 
McCall, lately arrived from McDowell's army on the 
Rappahannock. The scene at Fair Oaks at the time the 
Sharpshooters arrived there, was not one likely to afford 
much encouragement ; rather was it of a most appalling 
nature, with the numerous soldier graves scarcely dug out, 
so that often their feet and occasionally a head or arm pro- 
truded, while the stench was awful. And they were glad to 
get away from this forbidden spot, when on the 21st they 
were ordered back to Mechanicsville, where they arrived in 
the evening and reported to Gen. Reynolds, who commanded 
a brigade in McCall's division; and were then ordered into 
camp in a pine grove near that general's headquarters. 

The enemy were getting thicker on the opposite hills and 
in advanced rifle pits, and although everything appeared 
quiet over there, save the rub-a-dub-dub boom ! of the snare 
and base drums at reveille and retreat, the silence was 


" From camp to camp, the hum 
Of either army stilly sounds," 

and our soldiers felt it in their bones, that a storm was 
brewing; and not much longer were they to wait its coming. 
Every time that drum pounder came around with his 
"rub-a-dub-dub, rub-a-dub-dub. boom!" yells and hideous 
noises from our side greeted the old and weary, and too 
"oft familiar sound." Some said it was a "nigger on horse- 
back " coming down to tantalize the Yanks, but I gueis 
that was made up. 



For several days previous to the fighting to be especially 
known as the " Seven Days Conflict," considerable firing 
occurred along the lines, principally with artillery, and it 
became evident that a crisis was about to occur. On the 
22d Capt. Drew, with a squad of six scouts under Sergt. 
Benson, made a reconnoissance to the right at an early 
hour in the morning and returned safely, meeting with no 
opposition from the enem}', accomplishing the purpose for 
which they were sent out ; and on the 25th the two com- 
panies were ordered under arms, heavy cannonading being 
heard particularly on our left, where on the south side of 
the swamp Gen. Hooker's division became engaged with the 
enemy in the action known as Oak Grove. 


June 26, 1862. 

The enemy were discovered about noon on the right, 
having crossed above Meadow Bridge and attacked the 
Union pickets, driving them in, capturing some of our men, 
including a number of the noted "Bucktail" regiment of 
Gen. McCall's division. These Bucktails were Pennsylva- 
nians, and were so called from the c.eer tails in their caps. 
At three p. m. the rebels advanced in force with skirmishers 
in front and made a determined attempt to drive in the 


Union troops posted along the left bank of Beaver Dam 
creek. The Sharpshooters were instantly ordered into line, 
and held in readiness to move at a moment's notice. Mean- 
while, the sick and disabled were hurried off to the left, 
some in ambulances, others on foot. At this time Thomas 
McCaul returned from his trip to Wisconsin dressed in a 
very unmilitary uniform — straw hat, shirt sleeves, and 
coarse mixed trousers, with which he successfully escaped 
the provost guard at Washington. Although employed in 
the quartermaster's department, he shouldered a sick man's 
rifle, (I gave McCaul a 19 pound double-barrel rifle, bor- 
rowed from Company C,) and fell in for the fight. His 
absence from the regiment had been unnoticed. He brought 
with him from friends at home, a bottle of "Bininger" — so 
it was marked, though some of the boys pretended it 
was currant wine — and a box of cigars, which Orderly Stevens 
placed on a stump and marching the company around it, 
they helped themselves with a smile for the landlord and a 
puff for Tommy, and Company G went into action smoking 
a Fox Lake cigar. 

About four p. m. the Sharpshooters, under Capt. Drew, 
were ordered forward, leaving their knapsacks "stacked" 
in the pines, and crossing a ravine proceeded under fire over 
an open field in line of skirmishers to a thick wood. A 
detail from the two companies were stationed in rifle pits 
on the right of the road under Capt. Giroux, of Michigan, 
and Sergt. Staples, of Company G, where, they remained dur- 
ing the action subjected to a scathing fire of canister shot 
and shell from the rebel batteries posted on an eminence 800 
yards in front, which cut the limbs off the trees over their 
heads, and frequently plowed the dirt of the pits onto them. 
They assisted with the Bucktails in preventing the passage 
of the road by the enemy. The force under Drew on enter- 
ing the wood commenced firing on the unseen foe, the thick 
smoke rendering objects a short distance off indistinct. The 


Union troops became hotly engaged and a severe fight 
occurred, the rapid discharge of musketry and the booming 
of cannon making a terrific noise. At nine p. m. after some 
five hours fighting, the enemy retired, and the Unionists 
rested on the damp ground for the night. The Sharp- 
shooters without rations or cover, passed an uncomfortable 
night after their arduous exertions during the afternoon. 
The fighting was sharply contested but we succeeded that 
day in keeping the enemy off, the Sharpshooters doing their 
part; as also did the Brick tails of the Pennsylvania Reserves, 
six companies of whom came on with Gen. McCall. The 
troops slept on their arms that night amid the lamentable 
cries of the rebel wounded, which could be distinctly heard 
after nightfall along the lines. 

During the afternoon a small force under Lieut. Shepard 
had taken position in advance behind a fence, and while 
there, suddenly encountered the enemy at close quarters; 
the latter having approached under cover of the dense smoke 
through the thick brush, noiselessly and unseen. Having 
ascertained the character of the force on the opposite side 
of the fence, the men opened on them through the rails and 
then fell back over a small field to the woods, before the 
enemy recovered from their surprise and returned the fire. 
A number of our boys on falling back, rapidly reloading 
their easy breech-loaders, turned and fired again, among 
them Alvin Sherman, who remained at the fence until he had 
fired several rounds, repeating the same on crossing the field 
notwithstanding the urgent orders of the lieutenant to 
hurry away. Among those wounded this day were: W. G. 
Cronkite, Company C, and C.A.Stevens, Company G, slight 
in neck. 

At an early hour on the morning of the 27th (before 
daybreak), the Sharpshooters were ordered into the rifle 
pits on the right of the road, joining the detail under 
Giroux, and the Bucktails. The Union troops were at the 


time hurriedly moving away to the left, the commanding 
general deeming it necessary to draw in his greatly extended 
lines towards the Chickahominy bridges below Gaines' Hill, 
to make close connection with the main army. His right 
wing — Porter's corps — was in the vicinity of Mechanicsville, 
"too much in the air," too much exposed to a severe flank 
attack. Likewise his rear, which was now threatened by 
the rebel Jackson, who was approaching with a large force, 
and already close at hand, unprevented by our armies of the 
Shenandoah or the Rappahannock, the latter only 50 miles 
back, — "waiting for orders," — said to be protecting Wash- 
ington 60 miles further to the rear. Besides the line of 
supply to the Pamunkey river was in danger of being cut 
off, — had already been raided by the enemy's cavalry, — and 
Jackson could swoop in there any moment if not brought 
to a halt. These were the considerations that determined 
Gen. McClellan to make James river, held by our gunboats, 
the new base, rather than attempt to protect the lengthy 
old line, at the expense of his own strength in the face of the 
rebel army equalling in numbers his own. So it was ordered 
that the 5th corps should hold Jackson in check that day, 
the 27th, to gain time to effect the safe removal of the siege 
guns, wagon trains, the sick and disabled men; also, to 
prevent his crossing the Chickahominy between the Union 
army and the James. 

The Sharpshooters and the Bucktails now in the rifle 
pits, on a rise of ground at the edge of a small piece of 
woods, commenced firing at daybreak on scouting parties 
of the enemy 600 yards off. Soon after, the rebel fieldpieces 
opened in their old position and a constant shelling of the 
rifle pits was the result, which was responded to by long- 
range shots from our men. About eight in the morning, 
Brig. -Gen. (John F.) Reynolds rode quietly and unattended 
to the woods, keeping behind the same in the open field, 
away from the road so as not to be seen by the enemy, dis- 

l\ Tl.i: ARMY OF THE POTOMAC. 105 

-mounted at the timber and, personally visiting the pits, 
ordered the men to fall back quickly and in order, without 
noise, as the enemy were fast getting in the rear by a flank 
movement to the right, and the Union troops had left the 
place. His order to : "Fall back just as quickly and quietly 
as possible, men, as the enemy are upon us," came not a 
moment too soon, as the riflemen had scarce reached a half- 
mile away before the Confederates swarmed into the pits 
and on to the road, capturing a portion of the Bucktails 
who failed to receive the order to retire ; also two Sharp- 
shooters, Dewitt Collins and Richard B. Blodgett, of Com- 
pany G, the latter dying in the Richmond prison a few weeks 
later. For this hazardous and noble act on the part of 
Gen. Reynolds, the Sharpshooters had good reason to feel 
very grateful and to become endeared to him, saving them 
as it did from capture if not annihilation, and the virtual 
breaking up of Companies C and G of the First Regiment. 
After giving the order, the general hurried back to his horse, 
galloping quickly off to the head of his brigade. 

Capt. Drew w r ith a small squad of the Wisconsin com- 
pany being in an advanced position on the left of the road , also 
narrowly escaped capture and for the time being he was lost 
to us. The Sharpshooters of Wisconsin and Michigan and the 
Pennsylvania Bucktails were the last of the Union troops to 
leave the scene of the sharply contested battle. Hurriedly 
snatching up our knapsacks as we passed by the late 
encampment in the pines, we pushed onward to the left, 
with the enemy close behind. It was an exciting time with 
little else to think of but get away. Our troops had all 
been withdrawn from the field before sunrise of the 27th, 
all but our Bucktails and Sharpshooters, rear guards and a 
few fieldpieces. 

The battle of Mechanicsville was a Union victory, more 
so than our men imagined at the time. It appears that 
the Confederate generals had planned to swoop down on 


Porter's right and turn it in disaster; but the enemy had 
reckoned without its host, in this well conceived charge. Its 
host was Stonewall Jackson, but he didn't come that day. 
He failed to connect for once, at least, and as it turned out, 
the rebels were badly worsted. 

The southern generals: D. H. Hill called it a "bloody 
repulse." Longstreet: "We had attacked at Beaver Dam 
and failed to make an impression, at that point losing 
several thousand men and officers. Next to Malvern Hill, 
the sacrifice at Beaver Dam was unequaled in demoralization 
during the entire summer." 

McCall's division of Pennsylvania Reserves bore the 
brunt of this fight, although reinforced and assisted to some 
extent late in the day by Griffin's brigade of Morell's 
division on the right, while Gen. Martindale, still further 
to the right, had been slightly engaged earlier in 
the day. The Reserves consisted of three brigades com- 
manded respectively by Gens. Reynolds, Mead and Sey- 

Gen. McCall reports: "About noon, the 26th, the 
enemy were m motion, and at 12:30 p. m. our pickets at 
Meadow Bridge were driven in, and those along the road 
were ordered to fall back. * . * * About three p. m. the 
enemv's lines were formed in my front and the skirmishers 
rapidly advanced, delivering their fire as they approached 
our lines. They were answered by my artiller\^ and a rather 
general discharge of musketry. The enemy commanded by 
Gen. Lee boldly advanced in force under a heavy artillery 
fire and attacked my position from right to left. * ' 
His principal effort was directed to my extreme right. Here 
for a long time the battle raged with great fury. The 
Georgians rushed with headlong energy, only to be 
mowed down by the steady fire of the gallant Second 
Regiment. The enemy now for a time retired from close 
contest on the right, but he kept up during the whole day 
a heavy general fire of artillery and infantry, which, with 
the rapid reply of the Reserves, was at times one unbroken 

IN Till: ARMY OF KH8 1'OTOMAC. 107 

roar of" a stunning depth. * * For hour after hour the 

battle was hotly contested, and the rapid fire of our artil- 
lery, dealing death to an awlul extent, was unintermitted, 
while the greatly superior force of the enemy enabled him to 
precipitate column after column of fresh troops upon rav 
nearly exhausted lines. About sunset Griffin's brigade, with 
Edwards' (regular) battery, arrived. Theformer I requested 
its gallant leader to move to the extreme right, that being 
the weakest point in my position. Some time elapsed before 
these troops could reach their ground, and as the enemy ha* 
advanced, only a portion of this force could be brought into 
action. Then, a short time before the close of the engage- 
ment, the 4th Michigan relieved the 5th Pennsylvania, 
whose ammunition was exhausted ; and two companies of the 
14th New York joined the Rifles ( Bucktails), and the detach- 
ment of Berdan's Sharpshooters. My loss in this action was, 
as nearly as I have been able to ascertain, 33 killed and 150 
wounded. The loss of the enemy was heavy beyond prece- 
dent in this war for the numbers engaged. I learned from 
excellent authority while a prisoner in Richmond that Gen. 
Lee's loss in killed and wounded did not fall short of 2,000. 
In the published returns it appears that the 1st North 
Carolina lost nearly one-half of its effective force, and the 
44th Georgia nearly two-thirds. Stonewall Jackson's 
ar cillery was in the battle, although his infantry was several 
miles to the right." 

The government records show a total Union loss of all 
engaged of 361 — killed, 49; wounded, 207; captured and 
missing, 105. 

The companies remaining at the Gaines Hill camp — D, E. 
F, and K — also came out, and Col. Ripley says of them, that 
they headed Morell's column, and took part late in the day 
near a battery, but "had but small share of the fighting." 
Their turn was to come next, and very soon. "Some of the 
men, moved by pity for the sufferings of their wounded ene- 
mies, left their lines to give them assistance; they were fired 
on, however, by the merciless rebels and had to abandon the 
attempt." Remaining on the field all night, they became 


the rear guard of Morell's division the next morning, cover- 
ing the retreat— "as daylight appeared they found them- 
selves alone." Quietly the men stole away being "especially 
cautioned against allowing their tin cups to rattle against 
their rifles, as the first sign was sure to be the signal for a 
rebel volley." 

Further from Ripley: "As they approached the camp 
the}' had left on the preceding afternoon, a scene of desola- 
tion and destruction met their astonished eyes. Enormous 
piles of quartermaster and commissary stores were being 
fired, tents were struck, the regimental baggage gone, and 
large droves of cattle were being hurried forward towards 
the lower bridges of the Chickahominy. Halted for a few 
minutes amidst the ruins of their abandoned camp where, 
however, they found the faithful quartermaster-sergeant 
(Edwin E. Robinson) with a scanty supply of rations, very 
grateful to men who had eaten nothing for twenty hours 
and expected nothing for sometime to come." 

When the other companies were sent to different com- 
mands early in June for outpost duty, Col. Berdan was 
ordered to visit the right and left alternately, to make such 
changes in the position of the Sharpshooter outposts and 
supports as was thought proper. On the day previous to the 
opening of the Mechanics ville battle, he sa^^s he had ridden 
out to the right and saw the enemy apparently working on 
their small earthworks, throwing dirt high in the air about 
twice a minute, which was all they appeared to be doing, so 
that he suspected it was only a ruse to make us think thev 
were preparing for defense, when in fact they contemplated 
an attack at this point. Riding further along, he dis- 
mounted to take another look, and as he raised his glass 
saw a puff of smoke from some bushes at the creek, the ball 
passing under his right foot, producing a stinging sensation. 
Mounting his horse he hurried back to Gen. McCalFs head- 
quarters, reporting what he had seen, and suspected was 


the enemy's intention; whereupon the general ordered a 
brigade sent up in supporting distance of the troops on 
guard duty at that point, and none too soon, as the enemy 
threatened our rear and their capture; and, were it not for 
this brigade of McCall's, might have accomplished their pur- 

As C and G passed the old regimental camp, Robinson 
and Frank Whipple the thoughtful commissary, aided by 
the bustling McCaul who rushed in, distributed among us all 
the coffee and sugar we could conveniently earn*, then knock- 
ing in the head of a barrel of whisky, threw it over the 
piled up stores, put a match thereto and moved on, Whipple 
grabbing his rifle, as the flames rose upward. 

Maj. Roy Stone, commanding the 1st Pennsylvania 
Rifles, or "Bucktails," thus reports on Mechanicsville : 
"Two companies of U. S. Sharpshooters, Capt. Drew and 
Capt. Giroux, attached to my command during the action, 
behaved with great steadiness and delivered a most effective 
fire. * * * At daybreak of the 27th I was informed that 
the army would retire at once to a new line on Gaines Hill, 
and I was directed to hold with my regiment and the bat- 
ter}- the position I then held until that movement could be 
effected. I extended the Sharpshooters up to my right and 
left, to keep up the appearance of still occupying the whole 
line, and as soon as it was fairly light opened fire upon the 
enemy, who had advanced under cover of the night and 
planted new batteries within grape-shot range. Their 
infantrv also came down with apparently undiminished 
force, filling the road towards the ford with a solid column. 
The fire of the enemy's batteries was much hotter than the 
evening before; so much so that it was impossible for the 
gunners to stand up to load their pieces. As long, however, 
as their ammunition and my own lasted we were enabled to 
hold the enemy in check. A little after six o'clock a. M. we 
were ordered to retire as best we might to the main body, 
three miles distant. After leaving the intrenehments we were 
still obliged to go more than half a mile before escaping the 
ran^e of the same batteries which had annoyed us all the 


morning. The movement was necessarily hurried, the enemy 
having outflanked us and pressing closely upon our rear. I 
posted Capt. Holland with his company about 300 yards 
from the ford, directing him to obstruct the road and cover 
the retreat of our main body, and ordered Capt. Wister to 
destroy the bridge at the mill hospital. These were difficult 
and hazardous duties, and were performed with the cool- 
ness of veterans, and probably saved us from entire destruc- 
tion. Our loss in the morning's fight and retreat was more 
than half what remained from the previous day's work. 
We could not bring off our dead and wounded, and every 
man who gave out in the double-quick was necessarily cap- 


June 27,1862. 

Shortly after noon the great fight at Gaines' Mill began, 
and raged hot and furious until after dark . The enemy having 
been reinforced by large bodies of fresh troops during the 
latter part of the day, after a most stubborn resistance by 
the Union soldiers finally succeeded in forcing back the corps 
of Gen. Porter and division of Gen. Slocum ; the Unionists 
falling back not more surely than slowly and stubbornly to 
the last. Gen. Porter had at first but 28,000 men, after- 
wards reinforced by Slocum to 35,000; while the enemy had 
some 65,000 in line, commanded by Lee in person. During 
the progress of the battle Gen. Smith's cannon across the 
swamp, did great execution on our left, near the river, 
among the enemy's right wing. 

"All the heavy guns I could place in position were used in 
trying to drive back the columns of rebel forces pouring 
over Gaines' Hill to attack Gen. Porter's left flank. The 
long range (two and one-half miles ) prevented great aeen 


•\#f ' > «§tes§ * I pife 1 Jib 


racy, but the rebels were finally forced to retire to the woods 
and take a covered road till they got below our view. — GEN. 
W. F. Smith. 

At ten o'clock Gen. Porter's line was formed awaiting 
attack ; his purpose being to hold the enemy at bay that 
day, to enable the main army on the south bank of the 
Chickahominy to make the movement previously decided 
on by Gen. McClellan, to the new base on the James river, 
as free from attack as possible; the success of which 
depended in a great measure on the success of Porter's bat- 
tle. At the same time Gen. Porter asked that reinforcements 
from the other side be held in readiness to support him if it 
became necessary, in case the enemy pressed him too hard, 
thus making his situation critical. The 5th corps was 
posted behind a ravine where the mill stream ran, on the 
front of Watt's farm a mile east of the Gaines Hill camping 
ground, forming a semi-circle extending from the valley of 
the Chickahominy on our left, around to a point near New 
Cold Harbor, and covering the approaches to the bridges 
over the swamp. Gen. Morell's first division occupied the 
left and center of the line in the edge of the woods; Gen. 
Sykes' second division (mostly regulars) on the right, in an 
open field; and Gen. McCall's third division forming a sec- 
ond line in rear of the woods, in the field 600 yards behind 
Morell's troops. Thus formed, the troops rested, calmly 
waiting for the expected onslaught of superior numbers of 
consolidated foes massed for the complete destruction of 
Fitz John Porter and his isolated 5th corps. Never did 
soldiers more fully understand that there was a storm brew- 
ing, a storm of myriad lead and hurtling iron. A storm 
which they must repel, regardless the necessary sacrifice, 
the human cost, to save the day. That day must be saved ! 
The 5th corps must hold its ground ; and these silent — only 
whispering — soldiers, all knew it. It didn't come to them 
in so many express orders; their full sense of the grave 


situation was sufficient. How many failed to look back 
home, during these lulling moments ? How many failed to 
realize that this might be their last battle, which it was to. 
ever so many ? But when the great struggle commenced, — 
when the order came to "commence firing," — such thoughts 
passed from their minds. Amid the deafening din of battle, 
surrounded by fire and smoke, they were patriots, and 
thought only of victory. 

The battle opened about noon onSyke's front and right, 
threatening the flanks, but was readily repelled for the time 
being, and a lull ensued. But at three o'clock the engage- 
ment became general, lasting until dark. At four p. M. the 
division of Gen. Slocum arrived from over the river and 
immediately entered into the thickest of the fight, doing 
great service and losing heavily. Three separate charges 
were met and defeated by our troops, while the fourth and 
Inst effort succeeded only so far as to gain our line, but 
advancing no further. 

Six companies of Sharpshooters were engaged in this 
battle, Companies U, E, F and K being together under 
Lieut. -Col. Ripley, in Morell's front, where they were 
deployed on the further side of the marshy ravine far in 
advance. Here they remained some time before the enemy 
appeared in front, during which time Gen. Griffin rode over 
to the Sharpshooters' line, and told Col. Ripley that Gen. 
Porter washed a few reliable men sent out in front to ascer- 
tain the movements of the enemy — thus showing the con- 
fidence Gen. Porter had in the Sharpshooters. The colonel 
(lieutenant-colonel) came to Capt. McLean, of Company D, 
and asked for 10 men with a non-commissioned officer 
—"volunteers for special work." Sergt. John E. Hethering- 
ton was placed in command of the 10 scouts, with instruc- 
tions to ascertain as quickly as possible the enemy's move- 
ments, and report. They were to fire no shots or make any 
disturbance, unless absolutelv necessary for their own pro- 


tection, or . otherwise in the discharge of their duty. The 
result was that they soon came upon the flank of a 
marching column moving in the direction of the White 
House, and found that a great part of their army (Jackson's 
troops) had taken the road in that direction, under the 
supposition, no doubt, that the line of our retreat lay in the 
direction of the Pamunkey, from whence we had originally 
come. This was a very important matter, and Sergt. 
Hetherington, having accomplished his purpose, started 
back to make his report. But before he got back, the enemy 
had swung well around to our rear, the scouts became 
engaged with them, and they had some sharp fighting to do. 
James Winchell was hit in the shoulder, falling into the 
enemy's hands, Henry Collins was slightly wounded, and C. 
J. Buchanan just escaping capture. It was in this manner, on 
this gallant reconnoissance, that the Sharpshooters were 
the first ones to engage the Confederates at Gaines Mill. 

Deserters from their ranks and loyal citizens of Virginia 
represented that Gen. Jackson, with 50,000 men, had united 
his forces with those of Longstreet, A. P. Hill, and D. H. 
Hill, from Richmond, and that they were advancing with the 
determination to overwhelm and crush the Army of the 
Potomac. The dust from the immense columns of the enemy 
could be seen for miles, and soon our scouts and pickets 
warned us that they were extending over our whole front. 
—Gen. Fitz John Porter. 

Following close on the return of these scouts, at half 
past two p. m. Ripley's command became engaged with the 
enemy's skirmishers, who came onto the Sharpshooters 
from the rolling country fronting them. Holding their 
places until forced back by the severe attack later on, to their 
immediate right, whereby a connecting regiment was obliged 
to give way, they retired slowly, still firing, across the 
marshy ground, half-way up the opposite slope, where they 
halted. Here reinforced, they assisted in driving back 


the foe, following after and firing rapidly until they reoccu- 
pied their old position, only to be forced back again, the 
pressure being too great against them; and the enemy held 
that side of the ravine thereafter. 

Berdan's Sharpshooters, under Lieut. -Col. Ripley, were 
thrown well forward as skirmishers. Theenemy approached 
through the woods from the direction of New Cold Harbor, 
and made their first serious attack about twelve o'clock 
upon the right, which was handsomely repulsed by Griffin's 
brigade. The second attack was made about half past two, 
and the third about half past five o'clock, each extending 
along my entire front, and both, like the first, weregallantly 
repulsed.— Gen. Morell. 

But not until late in the evening, between seven and 
eight did the rebels break the lines of Morell's division, then 
only by massing the troops of Jackson, Longstreet, and 
both Hills, and hurling them with terrible onslaught on our 
center, which coupled with the demoralization caused by 
the repulse of our cavalry on the left, whose riderless horses 
plunged wildly among our batteries causing a natural panic, 
amid the dust and smoke, noise and confusion, brought 
about the disastrous result. It was a critical moment, but 
the enemy had lost heavily, and were themselves too greatly 
disorganized to follow up their advantage, the Unionists 
forming new lines covering the crossing of the Chick ahominy 
as darkness settled over one of the most obstinately con- 
tested scenes of war. 

Porter's demand for axes, made early in the day, to slash 
down the timbers in his front, thus offering an impassable 
impediment to the enemy's approach, assuring a most cer- 
tain and highly important victory for the Union, was not 
responded to until too late to be of service, although he sent 
twice for them. Had they been received in time, it must 
have made a material difference in the result of the battle; 
the rebel army would have been whipped, which would have 


had the happy effect of making an entire change in the mili- 
tary situation. The slashing of trees in Porter's front would 
have slashed the Confederate hopes for the safety of their 
stronghold; for if half the number of soldiers on open ground 
could hold twice their number at bay an entire afternoon 
until nightfall, what other result could reasonably be 
expected, had we been able to fortify, than a decisive victory 
for the Union arms? Gen. Porter took in the situation, but 
was unable to improve the opportunity. What few artillery 
axes he could use in places, did good service in barricading,, 
imperfect though it was; nor did he, as it was, have suffi- 
cient reinforcements to turn the tide of battle. 

Gen. McClellan says: "The objects sought for had been 
obtained. The enemy was held at bay. Our siege guns and 
material were saved, and the right wing joined the main 
body of the army. Our thin and exhausted regiments were 
all withdrawn in safety. Twenty-two cannon were lost, 
three of which being run off the bridge during withdrawal." 

The Michigan-Wisconsin detachment, Companies C and 
G, was under the command of Capt. Giroux, in the absence 
of Capt. Drew, who, with a detail of scouts from both com- 
panies, had become separated from us, and crossing the 
Chickahominy took no part in this battle. The two com- 
panies after falling back from Mechanicsville, during the 
morning rested with the Bucktails on a rise of ground on 
the road to the bridges built by the Union troops across the 
swamp. In the afternoon they were ordered into the fight, 
a half-mile in front, the Bucktails going ahead. On reaching 
a slope in front of the Union batteries the Bucktails moved 
off to the right, leaving the Sharpshooters under fire on the 
side of the hill. The battle was now raging in earnest, shot 
and shell flying fast, the Union batteries on the top of the 
hill replying vigorously over the Sharpshooters' heads. The 
stretcher-bearers were kept busy carrying back the wounded, 
hit in all manner of places — body, arms, legs, head and face. 


One unfortunate field officer of a zouave regiment was led 
off the field crying aloud at the loss of his nose, presenting a 
sight not easily forgotten. 

After some maneuvering the Sharpshooters moved for- 
ward into a piece of woods to the left, where they were sud- 
denly greeted with rebel canister, but without effect. A body 
of Union soldiers moving up in their front, and our captain 
beingignorant of the position of the opposing forces, he soon 
after fell back with his command a short distance from the 
woods into the open field, and became subject to the fire of 
the rebel batteries. Meantime the firing in the woods was a 
constant uproar, the bullets speeding back and forth by 
thousands. Nothing in words can better describe the terrific 
strife than those of Col. Simpson of the 4th New Jersey, 
which regiment, with the 11th Pennsylvania, were sur- 
rounded and captured after a most gallant struggle, when 
he said : " The hissing of the balls was like that of a myriad 
of serpents." 

The command of Companies Cand G having been turned 
over to the first sergeant of G, the commissioned officers hav- 
ing retired, they were ordered to a position on a side hill 
covering the road to the bridges, where the two companies 
assisted greatly in checking the stragglers while falling back ; 
eventually serving as a rallying point from whence stretched 
out long lines of battle re-formed after the old lines com- 
menced giving away in earnest, especially after the dis- 
astrous charge of the Union cavalry and lancers on the river 
bottom at sunset, — when the great red sun like a big ball of 
fire was fast disappearing behind the spires of Richmond, — 
and who were plainly visible with their red flags fluttering 
in the breeze as they charged fiercely over the plain, to be 
hurled back from the cannon's mouth in death and disorder. 

During this exciting period, when the two companies 
above named came on to the hill, we found Col. Berdan and 
Col. Matheson (32d New York— " California regiment") 




engaged rallying the scattering troops hurrying to the rear. 
The former said he had stopped them from crossing the 
bridge below, and had never worked harder, bringing them 
into line — these scattered men who had lost their regiments. 
It was at this critical moment, after sunset, that further 
reinforcements from the south bank of the Chickahominy, 
consisting of French and Meagher's brigades of the 2d corps, 
arrived, and with loud cheers pressed forward and checked 
the farther advance of the enemy in that direction — our left. 
A fictitious statement by an aide that, "McClellan'sleft wing 
was in Richmond," had the desired effect, and it was after- 
wards learned that the enemy thought that from the great 
noise made, the cheering by our rallied lines, that heavy 
reinforcements had come over; also that Lee told the Con- 
federates to "hold their position at any cost," expecting an 
attack by fresh troops the next morning. The next morning 
we were not there. After that battle it was an old saying: 
"That was the last seen of the Lancers in the Army of the 
Potomac." For good men though they were, it was soon 
demonstrated that lances belonged to another age, past and 
forgotten, and were perfectly useless in this war. 

Gen. Reynolds, commanding his brigade while engaged 
at the front among his brave Reserves, was captured by the 
enemy late in the day, or rather taken the next morning 
with his adjutant-general Capt. Kingsbury, having got lost 
in the woods over night. He was afterwards exchanged, 
and lost his life at the head of the 1st corps, about the first 
man, on the field of Gettysburg. 

Early the morning of the 28th the Union troops had 
crossed over the Chickahominy, destroying the bridges after 
them. McClellan's army was now for the first time all on 
the south side of the swamp, while a large body of the enemy 
were on the north side. Their main force t'was supposed 
had been menacing the Union soldiers from the vicinity of 


Richmond, which proved not so, the main force being 
together against Porter. 

The Sharpshooter detachment fell back with the Cali- 
fornia regiment during the night, remaining with them until 
mid-day of the 29th, having unavoidably lost their knap- 
sacks which had been unslung in the evening during the clos- 
ing charge at Gaines' Mill, and were not obtained aftei- 
wards. And this was the last of the hair-covered knap- 

When the first sergeant of Company G, as the ranking 
non-commissioned officer, received his orders from the 
Michigan captain commanding the two companies, to take 
command in his absence, recover the knapsacks left hal - 
mile in rear of our batteries, and in the line of the direct fire 
of the Confederate artillery ; that non-commissioned officer 
(C. A. Stevens, the writer of this history), informed the first 
sergeant of Company C (Byron Brewer) that he should 
obey the orders given him, but that when he ordered the 
combined companies to "left face — foward, march!" he 
would not look behind him — towards the rebel front. The 
hint was taken, and as the command moved briskly off 
rearward, Orderly Brewer, Sergts. Benson and Parker, and 
Thomas McCaul, of Company G, rushed to the front, down 
the declivity in front of our batteries, up the opposite slope 
into the field of battle, under the rebel fire — where they did 
good work. McCaul becoming at once a suspicious character 
with his straw hat on, soon found it advisable to cast it off" 
and away, as he went down behind a stump in the field and 
blazed away. The cry to his comrades from the infantry in 
line, as to "who that fellow was with the straw hat," 
brought forth the response: "Oh, he's all right! That's 
our Tommy!" causing yells of laughter heard over the 
battle roar. This rather disconcerted our hero who didn't 

understand it, but with a " you, what are you laughing 

at back there in the rear," our Tommy, despite the balls 

$ *& 9* f 



that spattered thick about him, held his ground as long as 
any others on that part of the field, notwithstanding his 
greatly exposed position — in advance of the infantry line. 
McCaul said it was the only fight he was in where he could 
distinctly "see the men fall that we drew bead on." Their 
colors were advanced apparently some distance ahead of 
their line, at least Tommy thought so, almost to his com- 
plete discomfiture, because as the "last man of their color 
guard " stuck the staff in the ground, he said: "I was fool 
enough to think of going out after it," and started for it on 
his hands and knees, when Sergt. Parker yelled him back 
and so fiercely that Tommy startled, jumped to his feet to 
look back, as a rebel volley flew all about him, accompanied 
by derisive cheers. Answering with a defiant cry back: 

"Get out! Keep your old flag! This is no place for 

Tommy;" he came back like a quarter horse, bare-headed, 
minus his straw hat, lost in the melee. 

The casualties at this battle have been reported, for the 
Union troops 6,837, the Confederates 9,500, thus showing 
the great slaughter inflicted on the enemy in their futile 
attempts to cut off our right wing while separated from the 
main army. The loss of the Sharpshooters under Ripley, 
were two killed, seven wounded and two missing, which 
was wonderfully small considering their great exposure. 
But the Sharpshooters always had orders to take all the 
cover possible ; being armed with breech-loaders they could 
lie low, and without changing position reload and fire ten 
shots a minute. A regiment of Sharpshooters in line could 
play havoc with an approaching column, as was afterwards 
demonstrated. The superiority of breech-loaders over muz- 
zle loaders was plainly manifest. 


Co. C— Wounded: First Sergt. Byron Brewer, slight. 
Co. D.— Wounded: James Winchell, lost an arm. 


Co. E.— Killed : Levi H. Leet. 

Co. F.— Killed: B. VY. Jordan, James A. Read. 
Wounded : E. H. Himes, severe. 

Co. K.— Wounded: James Mathews, mortally ; Thomas 
Cliff, slight; Alphonzo Manzer, captured. 

Many people, ignorant of the true situation, used to 
think that McClellan's left wing ought to have gone into 
Richmond either during the Gaines' Mill battle, or the next 
day after Porter had crossed and joined his forces, but it 
was easier said than done. If sixty-odd thousand rebel 
troops could not conquer half their number on open ground 
without barricades, how could it be reasonably expected 
that sixty-odd thousand Federals could, within the short 
time allowed them, whip half their number behind breast- 
works seven miles ahead to the rebel capitol — "so near," 
and yet so far? 

Relative to this military conundrum to the unmili- 
tary critic, I will leave it to the commanding general to 
explain : 

It will be remembered that at this juncture the enemy 
■was upon our rear, and there was every reason to believe 
that he would sever our communications with the supply 
depot at the White House. We had on hand but a limited 
amount of rations, and if we had advanced directly on 
Richmond, it would have required considerable time to carry 
the strong works around that place, during which our men 
would have been destitute of food ; and even if Richmond 
had fallen before our arms, the enemy could still have occu- 
pied our supply communications between that place and the 
gunboats. * * * While the enemy had a large army on 
the left (north) bank of the Chickahominy, he -was also in 
large force between our army and Richmond.— Gen. 

The fact is, McClellan was checkmated, and for the 
reasons stated. His division and corps generals on the 
right of the Chickahominy were averse to sparing any 


troops whatever to reinforce Gen. Porter on the 27th, in 
consequence of the threatened demonstrations in their 
respective fronts. 

McClellan again : "So threatening were the movements 
of the enemy on both banks of the Chickahominy, that it 
was impossible to decide until the afternoon where the real 
attack would be made. Large forces of infantry were seen 
during the day near the Old Tavern, on Franklin's right, 
and threatening demonstrations were frequently made along 
the entire line on this side of the river which rendered it 
necessary to hold a considerable force in position to meet 
them. * * * If, on the other hand, the enemy had con- 
centrated all his forces at Richmond during the progress of 
our attack, and we had been defeated, we must in all proba- 
bility have lost our trains before reaching the flotilla." 

To show that it was not a new idea of Gen. McClellan 
to fall back on James river, suddenly determined on, but 
had been contemplated sometime before, the following 
additional is given : 

In anticipation of a speedy advance on Richmond, to 
provide for the contingency of our communications with 
the depot at the White House being severed by the enemy, 
and at the same time to be prepared for a change of the base 
of our operations to the James river if circumstances should 
render it advisable, I had made arrangements more than a 
week previous fon the 18th) to have transports with sup- 
plies of provisions and forage under a convoy of gunboats 
sent up James river.. They reached Harrison's Landing in 
time to be available for the army on its arrival at that 
point. Events soon proved this change of base to be, 
though most hazardous and difficult, the only prudent 
course.— Gen. McClellan. 



June 27, 1862. 

During the time of the Gaines Mill battle, the enemy on 
the south side of the Chickahominy were by no means idle. 
On the contrary they were very aggressive, particularly in 
front of Gen. Smith's division (second division, Gen. Frank- 
lin's 6th A. C), where more or less fighting occurred all day, 
in which the enemy admit serious losses. Gen. Hancock's 
brigade having been placed in the front line early in the 
morning, bore the brunt of the enemy's repeated demon- 
strations, but as Hancock had been ordered to avoid as fat- 
as possible a general engagement, his efforts were only 
directed to keep the enemy off, repulsing his several attacks, 
which he succeeded in doing, as well as silencing from time 
to time his artillery. In this latter service Maj. Trepp's 
command of Sharpshooters (A and I) performed a very 
important part, when in the afternoon being sent forward, 
they effectually silenced the enemy's guns. This in frout of 
our infantry lines, it being a duel engagement between the 
rebel artillery and our Sharpshooters. After this affair, in 
connection with some New Jersey troops they assisted in 
repulsing a fierce charge of the enemy, the battle lasting 
about three-fourths of an hour, arid Gen: Hancock says of 
them: "They performed excellent service during the con- 
test, driving back the enemy's skirmishers who threatened 
an advance towards our left flank. They also did consider- 
able execution on the right of the enemy's force attacking 
me from Garnett's house." So well did they respond to the 
desperate attack, that they exhausted their ammunition. 
The next morning Hancock's brigade had fallen back a half- 


mile to a more favorable position, where he says they were 
"ready to repel any attempt to debouch troops by Golding's 
house." The two companies, A and I, remained in Fort 
Davidson while it was being destroyed to prevent its use by 
the enemy. Two hostile batteries opened on them, wound- 
ing several artillerymen and killing a number of horses. 
Having withdrawn the guns from the useless fort, at about 
ten o'clock the Confederates advanced in great haste, prob- 
ably supposing there was a full retreat, but in this they 
were disappointed, for on approaching within about 200 
yards of where our troops lay quietly in ambush, a terrific 
volley surprised them, causing their retreat in great con- 
fusion leaving their dead and wounded on the field, which 
the\- were afterwards allowed to bury and remove under a 
flag of truce. Capt. Aschmann says: "With the troops 
that were sent out to do this duty, we had free intercourse. 
Among them were many Germans belonging to a music 
band of a Georgia regiment. They complained bitterly of 
the bad treatment they received, and would have been glad 
to remain with us." Lieut Jonathan Sprague, Company I, 
was wounded and taken prisoner. 


June 28, 1862. 

Gen. Franklin says: "Finding the enemy (in the morn- 
ing) in great force at Garnett's, a new battery in the valley 
of the river and a battery of heavy guns at Gaines' Hill, I 
withdrew all the force to the edge of the wood inclosing 
Golding's farm, Slocum's division on the right of the road, 
and Smith's on the left, connecting with Gen. Sumner's line. 
We were severely shelled from all of their batteries just 
before the movement commenced and while it was going on. 


Just after the movement was completed two Georgia regi- 
ments made an attack upon the pickets. The}- were hand- 
somely repulsed with great loss with the help of Capt. Mott's 

In this affair we captured some of the enemy's attacking 
force including a couple of colonels — Col. Lamar (8th 
Georgia), and Lieut. -Col. Towers. Gen. Smith credits the 
33d New York and 49th Pennsylvania with being con- 
spicuous in this repulse. 

The Sharpshooters were represented at Gol ding's by 
Companies C and G, who were moved about considerably 
from an early hour in the morning to different positions, 
prepared to meet the enemy at all points, the roar of 
artillerv serving to keep them wide awake for any special 
emergency. In the afternoon they occupied an important 
position protecting troops detailed to obstruct the roads 
and destroy bridges, being subjected to the fire of the 
enemy's artillery for several hours, their shells bursting 
frequently among them. The enemy failed, however, to 
force them away, they remaining until the work was com- 
pleted. The position occupied while thus posted was one of 
terrible suspense, especially after darkness had settled 
around; they being unable to see but little of what was 
going on, owing to the thick brush and deep woods where 
they lay, at the same time being almost constantly reminded 
of the proximity of the enemy by the crashing shell through 
the tree tops above, dropping huge limbs, and often plowing 
up dirt and swamp mud among them ; while the booming of 
cannon and rattle of musketry plainly proved that the 
fighting along the line of the Chickahominy was earnest 
and severe, especially in Gen. Smith's front, with whose 
division they were now acting. 

Finally at a late hour that dark night which was illum- 
ined by the burning of abandoned stores, making the 
blackened sky lurid with its glare, — a terrible picture of 


war's desolation, — they moved silently away with the com- 
mand of Gen. Newton over by-roads and cross-roads, 
through gloomy woods and black looking ravines, now in a 
deep gull}' and again on a hill side, at last striking a well 
traveled road, along which they pushed mid other troops, 
crowded and jostling, heated and dusty, until about day- 
break when they halted in an extensive field, helping to swell 
the already large number of weary soldiers there assembled. 
Onward, after awhile, towards James river, and about noon 
the Sharpshooter detachment bidding farewell to the Cali- 
fornia regiment, left the column and joined the Pennsylvania 
Reserves near the Cross Roads. At this place, the Bucktails 
and the small force under Capt. Drew were found. 


June 29, 1862. 

At this point, which was an important crossing of the 
Chickahominy, batteries from the Pennsylvania artillery 
had been placed in position as early as the 27th, also at the 
railroad bridge a half-mile further up stream. On the 28th 
an artillery fight occurred, the enemy having arrived on the 
opposite side, and on the 29th orders were received to with- 
draw the guns and destroy the bridges. Capt. James Brady, 
of battery H, thus reports the destruction of the railroad 
bridge, the same being soon wrapt in flames in the face of 
the enemy across the stream. 

This good officer says : "During the afternoon of Sunday, 
signal was given to clear the track, as the train loaded with 
ammunition had been fired, and was about being run into 
the Chickahominy-. The burning train, rushing over the 
bridge, exploded on reaching the creek, throwing fragments 
thousands of feet high." 


Companies A and I, had been sent to Bottom's Bridge 
that afternoon with a brigade of infantry. The Sharp- 
shooters forming skirmish line, rushed forward exchanging 
shots with the Confederates who were trying to rebuild the 
bridge, only partially destroyed, and while so engaged suc- 
cessfully disputed the passage of the bridge by the enemy, 
thereby giving our moving troops ample time to get beyond 
that point without being required to make a stand. It was 
an important matter, and, so rapidly did our boys fire into 
them, they were completely discomfited and forced to retire 
from the work. Another telling example of the value of the 
Sharpshooter service. When the two companies were finally 
called off, they found their division had gone on, and being 
unable to find them, passed beyond Savage Station towards 
White Oak Swamp. 


June 29, 1862. 

This affair, also known as ' ' Peach Orchard, ' ' lasted about 
two hours, all hard fighting. The battle ground was near 
our principal supply depot at Orchard Station, where all the 
government property not transportable was ordered 
destroyed. While occupying the place the 2d corps, Gen. 
Sumner, was attacked about nine a. m. in a furious manner 
with both artillery and musketry by troops from Richmond. 
Hazzard's, Pettit's and Kirby's Union batteries soon got into 
position, and after a hard duel eventually silenced the 
enemy's cannon, while the troops of Richardson and Sedg- 
wick engaged the charging forces with such good effect as 
to drive them back, after a stubborn fight on both sides. 
Conspicuous in this battle was the 53d Pennsylvania, which 
had occupied some farm buildings in the field, and who 
repeatedly repulsed all attempts to drive them away. 


Company H, of the Sharpshooters, had been on picket 
duty in the vicinity of Seven Pines, said to be the nearest 
Union post to Richmond, and on this last fateful night were 
supplied with 100 rounds per man. Here they remained 
until three a. m. of Sunday (29th) before being recalled and 
ordered to fall back, when to their surprise they found every- 
thing had gone but one battery. Hurrying on past Fair 
Oaks station, they heard the enemy yelling behind them, 
the latter having evidently just discovered that the breast- 
works were evacuated, so the Sharpshooters took to the 
woods, and following the railroad line came up with Rich- 
ardson's division here at Allen's Farm. Acting as skirmish- 
ers in this contest they moved three-fourths of a mile through 
woods and fields, performing important service guarding 
the approach from the Chickahominv, communication 
between them and the main force being kept up by cavalry 
pickets. After our troops had all withdrawn they followed 
the column as rear guard, with nothing in sight but dead 
men and horses, and a lot of scattered and damaged equip- 
ments. On catching up with their division, they reported 
to Gen. Richardson how they had been left behind in the 
woods, who laughed heartily and said to them: "Oh, well, 
I was sure you Sharpshooters knew how to take care of 


June 29, 1862. 

At this place which was also one of the depots for our 
supplies, and where our sick and wounded were lying in 
hospital, the enemy following close after our troops, appear- 
ing in view about four p. m., commenced the attack, which 
w T as gallantly met, particularly by Burns' brigade, ordered 


over the field to hold the woods between the Williamsburg 
road and the railroad, and Gen. Burns says: 

Before I reached the position a scout informed me that 
the enemy were in large force on the Williamsburg road. 
Seeing that both of my flanks would be exposed, 1 sent to 
Gen. Sumner for another regiment. Fortunately the enemy 
did not attack until Lieut. -Col. Miller, 1st Minnesota regi- 
ment, reported, and I had time to throw it to the left, across 
the Williamsburg road, with the left flank retired. I found 
I still had not sufficient length of line to cover the ground, 
and was obliged to move Col. Baxter to the right and 
throw back his right flank to cover the railroad, leaving a 
gap in the center of my line. These dispositions were in 
progress when the enemy attacked most furiously with 
infantry, he having been playing with artillery upon me 
during the whole movement across the field, which was 
answered by Gen. Sumner's batteries. The battle raged 
along the whole line, but concentrated gradually toward 
my two weak points, the center and the Williamsburg road. 
I urged more regiments which were promptly sent me. 
Beiore these arrived, however, the enemy made a rush 
on the center, wounded me and killed the captain of the left 
company of Baxter's (Capt. McGonigle), forced through to 
the fence, and flaunted their flag across the rails, broke the 
line for a moment, but the brave men rallied and drove them 
back. The fight then moved toward the Williamsburg 
road, when most opportunely the 88th New York came 
across the field double-quick and cheering. I threw them 
into the gap on the road, when the enemy opened artillery 
and infantry upon them, but they never faltered— not only 
went up to my line but beyond it, and drove secesh before 
them. The 82d New York then came over the field, and I 
advanced it to the gap of the center. It too advanced 
beyond the original line. The 15th Massachusetts coming 
up, I relieved Col. Morehead with it, and Col. Baxter with 
the 20th Massachusetts. The 1st California and 7th 
Michigan coming up, I held them in reserve, looking to the 
flanks. Col. Owen of the 69th Pennsylvania was led to the 
left of the Minnesota by my aide, and, still farther to the 

IN THE akmy OP Tin: POTOMAC. 1 L'9 

left. Gen. Brooks' brigade was thrown by Gen. Sumner, on 
learning the enemy was moving in large force in that direc- 
tion. The fight closed, however, with the fire of the 88th 
Xew York, 82d New York, and 15th Massachusetts. Pris- 
oners reported four brigades of the enemy. * * Our 
men showed their superiority, and the victory can fairly be 
claimed by us. He was the attacking party, and was not 
only cheeked, but repulsed and driven from the ground. — 
Wm. W. Burns. 

Gen. Lee says his rebel troops consisted of one of 
Magruder's divisions and two regiments of another. That 
a severe action ensued, which continued about two hours. 
These statements are given to show the desperate nature of 
this battle. After dark, all being quiet again, our troops 
moved off, leaving a large number of sick and disabled to 
fall into the hands of the enemy — an unavoidable conse- 
quence as they couldn't be taken along. It seemed prettv 
hard, but there was no help for it. Capt. Hastings' com- 
pany, H, was with Caldwell's brigade in the second line of 
battle, but with the exception of receiving the enemy's 
artillery fire from time to time, were not actively engaged. 

During the afternoon of the 29th the two companies 
under Drew moved off with the greatly reduced Buektails, — 
about 150 all told out of six companies that had come to 
the Army of the Potomac under Maj. Stone, — and, with 
the regiments of the Pennsylvania Reserves, were placed in 
position along a particular road in a dense wood on the left 
flank, where they remained lying on their arms, an ambus- 
cade during the long dark night. Momentarily expecting 
the approach of some portion of the rebel forces, the men 
were kept in a state of utmost vigilance, and the highest 
pitch of excitement. Every member of that surprise party 
had his coat sleeve rolled up, leaving one arm bared so as 
to be recognized in ease of the appearance of the enemy, and 
the probable confusion resulting from a close and expected 


hand to hand engagement in that dark wood. But the 
graycoats (ailing to appear, the sleepless night passed away 
without a brush. 


June 30, 1862. 

The fight at this place, which opened in the forenoon, 
was a contest between a portion of our troops and a 
heavy artillery fire from several well-posted Confederate 
batteries — 30 guns — across the swamp. This cannonading 
was unusually heavy, could be heard for miles, and our 
soldiers guarding that important point, near the bridge, 
were subjected to it with little opportunity to reply, except 
our artillery, which did good service. Companies A and I 
(Sharpshooters), who were here with Gen. Smith's men, 
report the sudden attack of the enemy's guns had the effect 
at first of causing considerable confusion among our troops, 
and it took some time to recover from the surprise. The 
battery that had been with them at Fort Davidson (on 
Garnett's farm) lost 25 horses and 12 men killed and 
wounded in a short space of time, but nevertheless succeeded 
in silencing the enemy's guns. The Sharpshooters occupied 
an advanced position protecting the center, where they had 
a lively time with the enemy's batteries, also in skirmishing. 
The heat of the day was intense, and the men suffered much 
for want of water. Sergt. Demetrius J. Hays, of Company J, 
was wounded at this place. 

Company H also took part in this fight, and, when the 
enemy unexpectedly opened with their cannon, the long 
train of pontoons which were just starting off was stopped 
and burned, as the mules were stampeded by the firing. 
Along with them wentCapt. Hastings' darky, who had just 


shouldered the captain's blankets, haversack, etc., expecting 
to move on, and with the exclamation: "Dis is no place 
for me, sar," disappeared with his load, never to show up 
again. This company was sent to the left of and in support 
of Hazzard's battery, from which place the enemy tried 
every means to dislodge them. Solid shot would strike the 
ridge in front, throwing the loose earth in their faces, others 
would ricochet over their heads, while shrapnel and shell 
would burst and scatter among them. Edward Lynde and 
John Acker lying side by side were shocked by a piece of 
shell striking the ground between their heads, another piece 
tearing through the blanket roll on Lynde's shoulder; while 
Capt. Hastings and A. R. Barrett had a close shave from a 
piece striking the ground between their heads, filling their 
ears with dirt; it was a very hot place for them, both from 
the firing and the terrible heat of the sun. Lieut. Barrett 
says: " We witnessed the woundingof Capt. Hazzard right 
in our front. Many of the artillerymen were overcome, and 
their places filled by volunteers from our (Caldwell's) bri- 
gade." But this action was only preliminary to the great 
battle of the dav later on. 


June 30, 1862. 

This battle also known as New Market. Charles City 
Cross Roads, Nelson's Farm and Frazier's Farm, was one of 
the severest that had yet occurred during the movement 
then in progress. During the forenoon the Sharpshooters 
were mustered for pay; shortly after, orders were received 
to be ready to move, heavy cannonading being heard. 

At four p. m. the Sharpshooters, under Capt. Drew, 
went into action with the Bucktails, the Wisconsin com- 


pany numbering 51 men. The Michigan company was 
reduced in about the same ratio, while with the entire 
Bucktail force they would number in all scarce three mini- 
mum companies. Moving forward into a piece of wood 
fronting an open plain, they remained for a while lying on 
their arms among the Pennsylvania Reserves, and while 
there were exposed to a steady canister fire humming by and 
spattering among them, with an almost constant shelling 
of the woods by the enemy's guns. They were finally 
ordered to move to the left, taking a position on a slope of 
ground in the open field. The Sharpshooters occupied the 
slope, being on the extreme left of the line, the Bucktails on 
the right of the Wisconsin company. For a short time, 
now, the firing ceased, when a very suspicious quietness 
reigned supreme over that vast plain. But it was only the 
calm that precedes the storm— a storm that was expected 
soon to break by our men. A movement had occurred in 
advance of our position on the right, by which some 
prisoners had been taken and the firing stopped. A dashing 
charge had been made over the field by the Reserves under 
Col. Simmons, at the expense of considerable loss, including 
that spirited officer, who fell while forcing the enemy hur- 
riedly back, before he could re-form his more or less broken 
line. This change in the aspect of affairs — this lull in the 
proceedings — was almost too sudden to be satisfactory, and 
as before stated it looked very ominous. However, the 
Sharpshooters had not long to wait before they becam; 
thoroughly convinced that the battle was not over, being 
suddenly exposed to a severe cross-fire from their left, caused 
by the hasty retreat of a regiment in their front, which had 
been attacked on their left flank by a large force of the enemy. 
With the rebel soldiers under cover of a strip of wood and 
the house and out-buildings of a farm, the outlying regi- 
ment in the open field was unable to withstand the terrible 
effect of the attack, therefore made a precipitate retreat to 

< Fully Equipped.) 


the cover of the woods behind the Sharpshooters, running 
directly over them, and falling killed and wounded among 
our men. Pinned to the ground by a big, strapping fellow- 
falling heavily by his side onto his packed haversack loaded 
with company books, etc., — no rations those days and no 
knapsacks — Company G's orderly had hard work to disen- 
gage himself; the big blue coat laid there. The rebel balls 
followed those flying troops thick and fast, striking the 
ground on the crest of the slope, throwing dust and dirt 
in clouds in the faces of the riflemen lying thereon, so that 
it was almost impossible for them to see. Amid the con- 
fusion following, the Sharpshooters were kept in their places 
until all had fallen back but them. Then, while bravely 
striving to hold the ground, both companies responding to 
the fire of the rebel troops now preparing to charge, the 
Wisconsin company suffered the great loss in killed of their 
gallant captain, Edward Drew, while in the act of reloading 
a rifle he had been using, obtained from a sick man, and two 
sergeants, Joel Parker and James W. Staples. Parker was 
the first man shot, through the head, while on his knees 
firing over the top of the slope. Capt. Drew on being told 
of it, also on his knees, had turned to look at "Joe," when 
a ball struck him in the top of the head as he was pushing 
in a cartridge to shoot back. This occurred on the left of 
the company, Staples being shot on the right in his place as 
a file closer (5th sergeant), behind the position of the first 
sergeant. No better panegyric could be bestowed on the 
fallen than for me to assert that these three men, Drew, 
Parker and Staples, were of the truest specimens of the 
highest type of American manhood — gentlemen, patriots, 

The second lieutenant (Shepard) then ordered his men 
back to the cover of the wood, which was obeyed as 
quickly as possible, a number getting hit in so doing. 
Among them was Lyman L. Thompson, one of the company 


buglers, who went into this fight with his trumpet in one 
hand and rifle in the other. He was shot while crossing the 
ditch at the edge of the wood. No longer able to blow the 
martial blast, he lay down by his bugle and died. The 
order to fall back was given just in time, as the enemy in 
force were on the eve of a charge. On reaching the timber 
the men became greatly scattered, for which they were not 
to blame, but rallying in squads commenced a desultory 
fire which was kept up until dark. A portion of the detach 
ment, members of both Sharpshooter companies with some 
Bucktails, re-formed under Orderh'-Sergeant Stevens, who 
had escaped from the enemy as the}- swung around through 
the woods, after releasing himself from the fallen Pennsyl- 
vanian previously noted. Another member, William E. 
Wheeler, failing to heed the call of the orderly to "come on," 
waited a moment too long to "take another shot," and 
became a Yankee prisoner. 

Capt. Giroux, Lieuts. Baker and Shepard had collected 
most of the rest and joined the remnant of Bucktails under 
Alaj . Stone. The rebels charged over the ground to the wood, 
and although afterward driven back, came on again. One of 
our squads, on deploying through the timber, was particu- 
larly noted for its ardor in firing straight shots into rebel- 
dom, and with such rapidity did the}' discharge their breech- 
loaders as to surprise many infantry officers near by. Con- 
spicuously engaged in this quick shooting were Thos. 
AlcCaul, C. X. Jacobs, Wm. Anderson and Robt. Casey; the 
latter of whom "executed numerous affidavits " between 
shots, especially after getting his finger clipped. But that 
was only natural for "Swearing Bob," who was ahvavs 
full of "affidavits" when crowded by the enemy. He would 
shoot and swear, and swear and shoot. 

The position assigned to the Sharpshooters and Buck- 
tails if not actually a blunder was at least an unfortunate 
one, for had this force on the slope been stationed in the 


wood before the enemy appeared, the latter would hardly 
have crossed that field, or if so, not without great loss. 
But owing to the sudden and unexpected "break to rear" of 
the regiment on our right front, and consequent confusion 
on that part of the line, it became impossible for us to 
re-form successfully on the edge of the timber, the enemy 
immediately following up their advantage by closing in on 
front and flank. It is said that large bodies move slowly, 
but it is not always so, especially in arm}' movements, as it 
often happens that when once started large bodies of troops 
move fast. Such was the case at this time, the men falling 
back utterly regardless of order, when they found themselves 
flanked in an open field by superior numbers having the 
advantage of cover. While no blame could probablv be 
attached to the routed regiment under the circumstances, 
unless that they should have rallied in the woods, yet 
should the little detachment of Sharpshooters be awarded 
much praise for the stubborn manner in which they held on, 
to the last possible moment, and after all others had dis- 
appeared in the wooded background. Attempts were made 
to recover the bodies of the fallen, which were unsuccessful, 
the woods being full of Johnnies, and Sergt. Benson and 
Jas. S. Webster narrowly escaped capture in trying to 
reach the fatal field. 

Towards evening Burns' brigade appeared on our left, 
and taking part in the closing fight of the day which raged 
for a time in terrible earnest, helped to drive the enemy 
finally back and off from the road leading to James river, 
which was thus kept open for the passage of our troops. 
Some of the Sharpshooters, with the orderly, charged with 
them, posting themselves on the right. Thomas McCaul 
also charged with them. 

It appears from rebel authority that the enemy were at 
one time in much confusion, some of their troops being in 
rapid flight until checked in their course by one of their 


noted generals, when a determined rally was made, aided 
by fresh troops, try which they succeeded in making a stand 
at close quarters, where the bayonet was conspicuously 
brought into use. A hand-to-hand struggle ensued over the 
capture of Randol's battery, wherein the Reserves were 
forced back after a determined resistance. In another part 
of the field Cooper's battery shared the same (ate, but 
in both instances they were soon after recovered and 
saved, the enemy being driven off, leaving in our hands a 
portion of their colors; also, it is said that on this part of 
the field Jeff Davis and Gen. Lee were present during the 
afternoon, being with the advance of Longstreet's corps. 
Cooper's battery was lost finally, as was a portion of 
Randol's, but unavoidably so, owing to the rushing hosts 
of foes right up to the muzzles, and the killing of the horses 
so that the guns could not be brought off. The fighting in 
front of these batteries was at close quarters, the bayonet 
being freely used. Randol reported 38 horses shot down by 
the charging columns, with eight more wounded. 

" Hand to hand, and foot to foot ; 

Nothing there, save death, was mute; 
Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry 
For quarter, or for victory." 

The battle was opened by r Gen. McCall's decimated 
division, barely 6,000 strong, and was maintained until 
night, holding his own for three full hours until over- 
whelmed bv superior numbers front and flank, — said to be 
18,000, under Longstreet and A. P. Hill,— when the troops 
of Sumner and Hooker on the left with Kearney and 
Slocum on the right, came to his necessary relief. As McCall 
was unsupported in the outset, had he not successfully 
resisted the advancing enemy, the road would have been cut 
and the rebels have swarmed across our line of march, 
creating demoralization and disaster. McCall's losses in 
his Reserves sufficiently attest their gallantry in the unequal 


struggle: for the third time during this movement, fully 
proving their staving qualities in the midst of hot work in 
critical places. 

Gen. Porter says: "Had not McCall maintained his 
position on New Market road, June 30th, the enemy would 
have cut that line of march of the army." 

"It was only the stubborn resistance offered by our 
(McCall's) division, prolonging the contest until alter dark 
and checking till that time the advance of the enemy, that 
enabled the concentration during the night of the whole 
army on the banks of the James river, which saved it." — 
Gen. Meade. 

And the following high Confederate authority admits 
that Gen. McCall's troops by their stout resistance that day, 
kept the enemy off from the road to James river. 

Gen. Longstreet said to Surgeon Marsh, 4th 
Pennsylvania cavalry, who remained on the battle field with 
the wounded: "McCall is safe in Richmond; but if his 
division had not offered the stubborn resistance it did on 
this road wc would have captured your whole army." 

Gen. Pry or also spoke in the highest terms of the "pluck 
displayed by McCall's Pennsylvania troops." 

Maj. Whaley, 5th Texas, informed Col. Bierer, 171st 
Pennsylvania, while a prisoner in Richmond that: "he 
never saw better fighting than that of the Pennsylvania 

It is true, as Gen. McCall admits, the 12th regiment broke 
badly and let the enemy in our flank; but they had been 
unfortunately posted in an exposed position in advance, as 
before stated, having previously done some good work. But 
when Gen. McCall stated that he had posted the Rifles — the 
Bucktails and Sharpshooters — in the edge of the woods, it 
was an error; for whatever his intention, we had been 
moved forward onto the open field in front; whereas, had 
we remained in the woods, there would undoubtedly have 


been a different and better story to tell on that part of the 

The Sharpshooter detachment behaved very well in this 
fight notwithstanding their severe loss— did everything 
possible, and after deploying through the woods succeeded 
in capturing a number of prisoners. Henry Lye, company 
bugler of G, captured several Johnnies in the wood about 
dusk, among them a lieutenant-colonel, from whom he 
obtained a fine revolver. This officer in answer to Lj'e's 
demand to "Halt! and surrender!" replied: 

"Down with your rifle, I'm your prisoner, but me, 

if I didn't think these were my men in here." 

And Lye thought so too, and therefore hurried away 
with the officer and an enlisted man, the latter captured and 
with him when he caught the former. 

Frank Smith (G), seated in the midst of a large squad of 
them after dark, while listening to their conversation, 
learning their character, found an excuse to move one 
side and get clear of them. In fact, the woods became full 
of them, they coming oftentimes in close contact with the 
Sharpshooters and Bucktails, who remained in the vicinity 
long after night had set in. On one occasion, one fellow 
lay down among them and was captured. The first inti- 
mation they had of his character was his statement after 
remaining some time, that he belonged to a "Louisiana 
Battalion," whereupon he was instantly throttled by a 
Wisconsin member and California Joe "within an inch 
of his life," and disarmed. By the way, the luckless gray- 
back was so unfortunate as to crawl in between two of the 
most uncompromising Union men there were in the detach- 
ment, and he might consider himself lucky at that exciting 
time to get off with a little rough handling for a few 
moments, and also to have thanked Joe for it, as he pre- 
vented the Wisconsin man from choking him out of exist- 


It was at this place after darkness had come, that the 
division commander, Gen. McCall, was captured by the 
enemy on the edge of the wood in question, while Maj. 
Stone, of the Bucktails, narrowly escaped, receiving a 
shower of bullets as he flew back to his command, they 
having been in advance to reconnoiter. The major was 
thrown from his horse, receiving a slight contusion in con- 
sequence. With McCall and Reynolds captured and Meade 
severely wounded, there was but one general officer left in 
the division, Gen. Seymour, who succeeded to its command. 

Gen. McCall never returned to the army, although 
exchanged in August, his health failing; then in his 60th 
year, he resigned in March, 1863. Graduating at West 
Point in 1822, he had served with distinction in the Florida 
and Mexican wars. He was an accomplished officer and 
bravely commanded the Reserves of his native state, on the 
Peninsula, and his retirement was a great loss to his 
country's service. He died in 1868. 

The force under Giroux and Shepard also received a 
heavy volley about nine p. m. from down the road, which 
resulted fatally among the G men, George Lanning being 
killed. Sometime after midnight they moved on again 
towards the river, where they arrived at sunrise in the 
vicinity of Turkey Bend, and where the detachments under 
the above named officers and Sergt. Stevens, of G, joined 
together. The Sharpshooters mourned over their losses, 
which were quite heavy in this battle, particularly in the 
Wisconsin company which had five killed, six wounded and 
one taken prisoner, as follows: 

Killed : Captain Edward Drew, Sergts. Joel Parker and 
James W. Staples, Privates Ionian L. Thompson and George 

Wounded: Wm. 0. Clark, hip, mortal; Jonas W. 
Shepard, head, severe; Henry S. Roberts, back, slight; 


George H. Lewis, leg; Robert Casey, finger, slight; John 
O'Niel, foot, slight. Missing: Wm. E. Wheeler, captured. 

The balance of the regiment were more or less engaged 
along the line on the 30th, suffering loss. In Company 
H, Lieut. Frederick T. Peet, a fine young officer, was 
shot through the lungs, supposed to have been mortally 
wounded, but was afterwards reported among the 
exchanged prisoners and did not return to the regiment. 
He had been promoted to a position in the Marine Corps, 
and was ordered to Washington at the beginning of the 
Seven Days, but preferred to remain with the company 
until the fighting in this movement was over. This com- 
pany went into the fight with the 61st New York of 
Richardson's division, performing gallant service under 
heavy fire. An aide riding up for reinforcements, Col. 
Barlow, taking off his coat, ordered his men to throw 
away everything but guns and ammunition, then advanced 
on double-quick cheering loud to deceive the enemy in 
the approaching darkness. Going down the road among 
the thick woods they received a sudden fire almost in their 
faces. The line recoiled for a few moments amid some con- 
fusion, many returning the fire, however, when Barlow, riding 
up, yelled out to the Confederates : "You are firing on your 
own men. Cease firing! " Rallying, ourmen now advanced 
through the woods and across an open field, where the 
enemy stopped them at the edge of another wood ; here a 
sharp engagement followed — one of the hottest places, 
Barrett says, he was ever in. The lines seemed in the dark- 
ness to be very close together. After the fight they lay 
on their arms in the woods a good portion of the night 
before they left the field. 

"Co. H, First Regiment Berdan's Sharpshooters, Capt. 
Hastings, which had been temporarily encamoing near us, 
gallantly volunteered to go into the action of Monday with 
us, and did good service. Capt. Hastings behaved very 


bravely, and after our loss of officers I put him in command 
of part of my regiment." — Col. Barlow. 

Capt. Hastings says: "My men stood nobly in the 
field with the 61st, under a terrific fire of musketry from an 
enemy concealed in the woods evidently far out-numbering 
our own force. The conduct of my men was fully satis- 
factory to me. Lieut. Peet, of my company, though suffer- 
ing from sickness, entered eagerly into the battle, and con- 
ducted himself with great bravery and perfect coolness. He 
fell wounded while encouraging and cheering on my men." 

The regimental command proceeded on to Malvern 
Hill, skirmishing at times off the main road, particularly on 
the New Market road near Glendale, where they advanced 
two miles to watch and delay the enemy should they ap- 
proach, but met with only small bodies of rebel cavalry easily 
repulsed and driven off, and having accomplished their purpose 
were recalled late in the day. They also accompanied Gen. 
Porter in a reconnoissance at night to the left of the main 
road over a couple of miles of rough country in the deep 
darkness, skirmishing and drawing the fire of rebel pickets. 
They were then withdrawn, rejoining the column. During 
all this time they had little to eat, often with no water, so 
that they were pretty well starved out — gaunt, weary, tired 
and sleepy, ( but all kept up under the general excitement. 
Companies A and I, as before stated, helped to cover the 
retreat in Gen. Smith's division. Company B was in 
Hooker's division, following its fortunes and gallant bear- 
ing throughout the movement, and lost on the 30th: 
"Wounded— J. W. Kenney, John M. Barton. Missing— Andrew 
J. White. 



July 1, 1862. 

This great battle, the last of the Seven Days, was begun 
by the Confederates about ten in the morning with artillery 
and skirmishing; finally, as the day progressed, the opposing 
forces became engaged in a terrific strife. As darkness 
spread around, the battle ended, although the artillery fire 
did not cease until after nine p. m. The result, was a com- 
plete victory by the L T nion arms, repulsing the desperate 
attempts of the enemy to take the position in every instance. 
Repeatedly did the ^ebel battalions swarm out on the plain 
and with loud, fierce \ T ells rush forward toward the Union 
batteries which, double-shotted, opened at short range, 
mowing them down in a terrible manner ; while our infantry 
poured in such staggering volleys, as to render their stub- 
born and desperate efforts a failure. The gunboats in the 
river also assisted, by throwing shell into the adjoining 
forests as big as balloons, but 200 pounds heavier. 

The attack was made upon our left and left center, and 
the brunt of it was borne by Porter's corps (including 
Hunt's reserve artiller}' and Tyler's heavy guns) and Couch's 
division reinforced, by the brigades of Sickles and Meagher. 
It was desperate, brave and determined, but so destructive 
was the fire of our numerous artillery, so heroic the con- 
duct of our infantry, and so admirable the dispositions of 
Porter, that no troops could have carried the position. Late 
in the evening the enemy fell back, thoroughly beaten, with 
dreadful slaughter.— Gen. McClellan. 

The Berdan Sharpshooters were well represented on the 
field of battle. The companies serving w r ith the handful of 
Bucktails were held in reserve, being greatly reduced in 
numbers, many unfit for duty, and all exhausted from fatigue 


and hunger. The following from the commander of the 2d 
brigade, Porter's corps, illustrates the slim fare and patient 
endurance of our troops in general: 

"The men received but one day's rations from the 27th 
of June to the 2d of July, yet they made no complaints, but 
endured the hardships of the march patiently, and fought in 
every engagement with the courage and impetuosity of fresh 
troops."— Gen. Griffin. 

The battalion of Sharpshooters under Ripley (D, E, F, 
and K) were sent to the front a third of a mile in advance of 
the lines of battle of Morell's division, being first deployed 
by Col. Berdan on the edge of a ravine to the extreme left of 
the Union forces, bordering on Turkey Run, in the center cf 
a field of wheat to be harvested that day by the sickles of 
war, and bounded on the farthest extremity by heavy 
woods. The position of the Sharpshooters was within 200 
yards of this timber, where the enemy's skirmishers first 
appeared and received the first rounds of breech-loading 
bullets. This was about noon. The fire from the artillery 
on both sides soon became very heavy, the Union shells 
shrieking by, close over the heads of our riflemen, some 
bursting behind them sending the scattered fragments over 
and around them, making their position in advance one of 
extreme danger. Men in battle can stand a good deal from 
the front, but when it comes to a fire in the rear, they are 
apt to grit their teeth and do some tall swearing. Still 
there was no way then to stop it, so our comrades had to 
take it, and they did so most gallantly — whether they swore 
occasionally or not. About half-past two p. m. a heavy line 
of Johnnies burst suddenly out of the woods, coming on a 
run. Chief Bugler Morse, of Company F, stationed by the 
side of Col. Ripley, gave the warning notes to "commence 
firing." Then the bullets began to fly from our side, and 
soon the broken advance had to fly back to the cover of the 
forest. It was a complete victory for our boys for the time 


being, and as complete confusion to the enemy, their dead 
and wounded lying all around. But another and heavier 
line soon appeared, which despite the spanking balls among 
them to their great slaughter, with undaunted spirit came at 
our men on a full run, sending their shots before them — firing 
as they ran. A flanking party of rebel skirmishers appearing 
closely on their right behind a roadway, forced the Sharp- 
shooters back ; the enemy taking possession, won the 
advantage of the ravine, while our men were catching it in 
the open field where they had halted beyond the flanking line 
and continued their firing. Being now in the track, of our 
own fire behind them — the front of the battle line — Ripley 
was ordered to retire his men and did so, to the rear of the 
4th Michigan. Before doing this, they utterly repulsed and 
silenced the battery of the Richmond Howitzers, their guns 
being abandoned in the open field without firing a shot; 
horses and men tumbling over so fast that nothing could 
withstand our terrific fire. The battery was composed of 
some of the most ambitious, aspiring youths of the "First 
Families of Virginia." whose efforts to distinguish them- 
selves early came to grief, were in vain, their howitzers 
rendered useless. Gen. Ripley thus describes them : 

"Suddenly there burst out of the dense foliage four mag- 
nificent gray horses, and behind them, whirled along like a 
child's toy, the gun. Another and another followed, sweep- 
ing out into the plain. As the head of the column turned to 
the right to go into battery, every rifle within range was 
brought to bear, and horses and men began to fall rapidly. 
Still they pressed on, and when there were no longer horses 
to haul the guns, the gunners sought to put their pieces into 
battery by hand ; nothing, however, could stand before that 
terrible storm of lead, and after ten minutes of gallant effort 
the few survivors, leaving their guns in the open field, took 
shelter in the friendly woods. * * * A member of the bat- 
tery in describing it to an officer of the Sharpshooters soon 



after the close of the war, said pithily: ' We went in a bat- 
tery and came out a wreck. We staid ten minutes by the 
watch and came out with one gun, ten men and two horses, 
and without firing a shot.' " 

While on this ad- 
vanced line Private 
Israel B. Tyler, of 
Company K, was sent 
to the extreme left, 
under cover of some 
bushes, as a picket to 
guard the flank. It 
seemed the enemy had 
also taken a similar 
precaution, for Private 
Tyler had not ad- 
vanced far before he 
C)srrr~k lC\ h S aw a rebel picket 

W close by, whom he 

covered with his rifle in time to compel his sur- 
render. He marched back with his prisoner until he met 
the adjutant who relieved him of his charge, and allowed 
Tyler to return to his advanced position. His proximity to 
the prisoner prevented the enemy firing upon him. About 
this time Col. Berdan cautioned the Sharpshooters to hold 
their position until they had made a good fight, before 
relinquishing the ground. So that after they repulsed the 
first advance of the enemy, still holding on, our battery men 
were greatly annoyed because our boys were in their way, 
and prevented them from opening with canister until after 
they had fallen back. 

After the withdrawal of the Sharpshooters from the 
front, the men and horses in Weeden's battery suffered con- 
siderably from the firing in the ravine; so much so, that 
Ripley was requested to send out a picked force in that 


direction where they could obtain a favorable position to 
command the ravine and stop the rebel fire, which was get- 
ting hotter and more galling to our artillerists. Adjutant 
Brown detailed some 20 volunteers in command of 
Sergt. Richard W. Tyler, of Company K, who was directed 
to proceed way out to the left, and succeeded admirably in 
obtaining a good position, which resulted in having the 
desired effect, besides performing good service on Magruder's 
right flank as he forced forward bis desperate charging col- 
umns. They had advanced along the bed of a deep creek at 
the foot of a slope, where they reached a point commanding 
at short range the entrance to the ravine nearest the woods. 
Here the enemy were discovered in force on the slope mass- 
ing under cover of the oak bushes in this ravine. Espying 
the danger at a glance, word was at once sent back to 
that effect by Tjder to Gen. Griffin, and as the former said: 
"within a few minutes it seemed as if all our heavy 
ordnance, including the gunboats, had been turned upon this 
point ; " and although the fire from our Sharps rifles into the 
ranks of the enemy moving along the slope and forming in 
the ravine, was most deadly, yet that from our batteries in 
their rear was so effective, the carnage so great, that the 
position of the Sharpshooters was apparently undiscovered 
by the excited and suffering foe. The information sent back 
by Tyler relative to the position of the rebels at this point, 
was of the utmost importance to our side, and was quickly 
transmitted by Gen. Griffin to the Signal Corps, which 
resulted in our fieldpieces and gunboats opening in the 
terrific manner stated. The notice sent by Sergt. Tyler was 
received none too soon, for by his prompt action and alert- 
ness a serious flank attack threatening disaster was averted. 
Gen. Ripley wrote Capt. Tyler some years after the war : 
"I distinctly remember that Gen. Griffin came to me soon 
after you went out on the left, and said : ' Your men have 
sent in word that the rebels were coming down the ravine. 1 


I heard him tell a staff officer, or orderly, to report the fact 
to the signal corps, and remember that a tremendous fire 
was opened on that point very soon afterwards, and that I 
was anxious lest you got it instead of the rebels." 

The position was held by the Sharpshooters during the 
balance of the day, and on retiring, being at the time outside 
the Union lines, it became necessary for them to return by a 
circuitous route which brought them far in rear of the place 
where they had left the regiment. It was a dangerous duty 
well accomplished — a critical position for the Sharpshooters. 
Company E assisted materially in repulsing an attack on the 
extreme right of Morell's division. Maj. Trepp's command, 
A and I, were further to the right with Gen. Smith, where 
they occupied an advanced position protecting the center, 
having a lively time with the enemy's batteries. The heat 
of the day was intense and they suffered greatly for want 
of water. 

Not until late in the day were the enemy's heaviest 
charges made, although the cannonading had been unabat- 
ed, deafening and terrific— on our side 300 guns playing 
havoc— the breaking shells scattering all around continually, 
with damaging results. It was one of the greatest artillery 
contests of the entire war, and under such a storm of crash- 
ing iron there was little ground of hope for any coming out 
s unscratched or unscathed. Finally, the rebels brave came 
on in heavy lines of battle, and although driven back with 
serious losses, tried and tried again, with the same fatal 
results. The staggering vollies of our infantry, the grape 
and canister, round shot and bursting shell from our well 
posted artillery, with the heavy guns of the gunboats, all 
together drove the enemy, after the bravest of struggles on 
their part, away from the field a scattered, demoralized 
mass, whipped out, and useless for any farther attempts. 

Gen. Porter in his report makes the following interest- 
ing statement : "At a be ut one o'clock p. m. the enemy com- 



menced with his artillery and skirmishers, feeling along our 
whole front, and kept up a desultory firing till about four 
with but little effect. During this firing Gen. Sumner, having 
withdrawn under the crest of the hill behind Malvern house 
a portion of his corps, directed me to do the same with 
mine. I could not at once refer to the major-general com- 
manding (McClellan) then on the right of the line, and 
protested against such a movement as disastrous to us, 
adding that as the major-general commanding had seen and 
approved my disposition, and also Gen. Couch's, I could 
not change without his order, which could soon be obtained 
if desirable. He desisted and the enemy was soon upon us, 
compelling him to recall his own corps. The same ominous 
silence which had preceded the attack in force at Gaines' 
Mill now intervened, lasting till about six o'clock, at which 
time the enemy (Gen. John B. Magruder's corps) opened 
upon us suddenly with the full force of his artillery, and at 
once began to push forward his columns of infantry to the 
attack of our positions. Regiment after regiment, and 
sometimes whole brigades, were thrown against our bat- 
teries, but our infantry withheld their fire till they were 
within short distance (artillery mowing them down with 
canister), dispersed the columns in every case, and in some 
instances followed the retiring mass, driving them with the 
bayonet, capturing prisoners, and also flags and other 
trophies. The contest was maintained by Morell's and 
Couch's divisions, the former supported by Sykes, who had 
thrown some of his regiments to the front and dispersed a 
large column attempting to take us in flank. A portion of 
the reserve artillery was also here in action. While the 
battle was proceeding, seeing that the enemy was pressing 
our men and accumulating his masses to pour fresh troops 
upon them, I called for aid from Gen. Sumner, which call 
was promptly responded to by the arrival of Gen. Meagher, 
with his brigade, followed by that of Sickles, which Gen. 
Heintzelman voluntarily and generously sent to complete 
the contest." 

In the closing scenes the Sharpshooters remained on the 
front lines until their ammunition w-as expended, when they 
were withdrawn to the rear of the great battle lines. They 


had done noble work, well earning a respite in their long 
and arduous efforts — a glorious close to so many continuous 
battles. In his report of the action, Gen. Morell thus speaks 
of a portion of their important service: 

"The artillery in front was placed under command of 
Gen. Griffin. Berdan's Sharpshooters were thrown forward 
as skirmishers under Lt.-Col. Ripley," who afterwards 
reported, "that a considerable body of the enemy were 
stealthily making their way along the valley to attack my 
(Morell's) left and rear. The 14th New York (under Col. 
McQuade) promptly advanced to meet them, and after a 
sharp engagement in which three attacks were repulsed, 
drove them away, and the rebel attempt in that quarter 
was not renewed." 

Their prompt discovery of the situation in front, 
reported to the general of the division, undoubtedly pre- 
vented a disastrous flank attack. An instance of many 
during the war wherein the importance of the Sharp- 
shooters' service was clearly demonstrated, extended, as 
they were, in skirmish lines far out in front, awaiting and 
combating the enemy's advance. 

"Simultaneously with the attack on the left of my rear a 
most determined and powerful one was made on my left 
front." This was also met and repulsed by Morell's troops, 
"until they were in turn relieved by part of Sykes' division 
and the Irish brigade, Gen. Meagher, which having been 
sent to our aid, was led into action by its own commander 
and Gen. Porter."— Gen. Morell. 

In this last battle the regiment lost more of the "good 
and true," among them: Lieut. -Col. Ripley, who was 
severely wounded and soon after resigned, to the regret of 
the regiment. Also the following: 

Co. E — Killed : Corp. Thomas Ward, George Scales. 
Wounded: Capt. William P.Austin, severe; Lieut. Cyrus 
E. Jones, mortally; Leroy P. Greenwood, badly; and 
Charles I'. Shepard. 


Co. F — Wounded : Lieut. Charles W. Seaton, Jacob S. 
Bailey and Brigham Buswell, the latter discharged therefor, 
the others returning. Bailey was a noted wrestler, and was 
destined to wrestle more with the enemy — at long range. 

Co. K— Killed: Abram Swits. Wounded: Martin S. 
Goit, severe; Edwin B. Parks, slight. 

Col. Berdan in reporting this battle, said : " On Tuesday 
morning, being unable to find Gen. Morell, and learning 
that the enemy was approaching, I marched my command 
to the front and was about to deploy them as skirmishers, 
when Gen. Porter came along, and he approving my sug- 
gestion, I posted them in front of the batteries, where they 
remained all day, receiving and repelling the enemy's skir- 
mishers, and received the rebel infantry in the afternoon 
standing firm and firing with great rapidity and coolness 
until the enemy's line was within grape range of our 
artillery, when they fell back with the Fourth Michigan, 
firing constantly. At this period it became necessary to 
have reinforcements, and at the request of the commanding 
officer of the P'ourth Michigan, Lieut. -Col. W. Y. W. Ripley, 
of my regiment, went back and got two regiments, first the 
12th New York and afterward the 14th New York, which 
arrived just in time to save the left wing. Lieut. -Col. 
Ripley behaved with great bravery and coolness." 

Col. Berdan before the action commenced, bought some 
fresh meat, which he ordered cooked and ready for his com- 
mand as soon as they should be relieved at the front. Nor 
were the two detached companies with McCall's division 
forgotten ; the colonel having located their position, had 
ridden over to see how they were getting on. I wouldn't 
say exactly how it occurred, but some of the company G men, 
at least, got part of this beef— maybe they stole it. As 
rations were scarce, it was a fortunate occurrence for the 
Sharpshooters that the colonel had been able to get this 


beef, for as the adjutant had stated they were "hot and 

Prisoners taken at Malvern claimed to have been forced 
forward in their desperate charges on our batteries, threat- 
ened in the rear by the cannon of Magruder, if they faltered. 
Also, that they were unduly excited by frequent rations of 
whisky mixed with gunpowder; their canteens, some half 
full of this stimulant, was reported as conclusive proof that 
this admixture had been indulged in. Whether or not, gun- 
powder would have any additional crazy effect, whisky was 
undoubtedly sufficient to make them reckless. 

The enemy lost heavily in this battle, computed at 
about 4-, 500— double that of the Union loss. They were 
finally routed and fell back to Richmond in great disorder, 
failing to follow up the Federal forces farther; which latter 
reached Harrison's Landing on James river the morning of 
July 2d, worn out with fatigue and glad enough to receive 
orders to prepare camp. They had left the field at Malvern 
the night before at a late hour, and endured a tiresome 
march of 12 miles over roads crowded with troops of all 
descriptions, ponderous artillery, trains of wagons, ambu- 
lances full of sick and wounded men, now close together at 
a slow pace, now stretching out and hurrying to close up, 
through thick mud, drenched with the heavy rain that fell dur- 
ing most of the night. It was a procession of tired, worn- 
out, battle-scarred men. Crowded in the ine were the lame, 
the halt and blind ; among the latter were California Joe and 
the Wisconsin orderly who were led away from Malvern 
during the night unable to see, caused by exposure, the 
smoke and dust. Many were afflicted on this campaign 
with their eyes from these combined causes. 

Daniel Perry, of Company F, slept in the woods until 
daylight, when he found the roads and fields full of rebs. 
Being undiscovered he pushed on as rapidly as possible 
through the timber, reaching the Landing safely. Owing to 


his exertions running through the woods and brush, his 
long fasting, he was very weak and famished; being soon 
after taken down with fever he was sick fur months. He 
had done good service throughout the day with his com- 
pany at the front, but when they fell back became separated 
from them, and while making his retreat in good order 
over the hill by the "Crews' house," came across Gen. 
Porter, who probably judging from his size and distinguish- 
ed bearing, as became only "the tall corporal on the 
right," concluded it would be to the advantage of the 
Union cause to have Mr. Perry in a more forward position; 
so, told him point blank that he was "going the wrong 
way." Whereupon the tall corporal, head and shoulders 
above the tallest, joined a new brigade, which went in on a 
charge; having no bayonet to his trusty rifle and no 
ammunition, although he had as he said: "received orders 
direct from headquarters," inasmuch as night was coming 
on, he withdrew from those ranks— a clear case of "skip- 
ped" — not wishing to be caught out after dark in strange 
company, especially among a lot of noisy charging shouters. 

The total loss in killed and wounded during the entire 
seven days has been estimated in round numbers, for the 
Confederates 18,000, Union troops 10,000. Porter's (5th) 
corps lost during this time 7,600, about three times more 
than the 2d, 3d and 6th corps, the 4-th corps losing but 800 ; 
and one-half of the entire loss, killed, wounded and missing, 
which is officially announced as a grand total of 15,849, 
came from the 5th corps. 

The following extracts from a newspaper account of "A 
Week in Porter's Corps," in Gen. Martindale's brigade, 
written by Col. Horace S. Roberts, of the 1st Michigan 
volunteers, so truthfully describes the scene at Malvern, 
and particularly the trying situation of troops lying in 
reserve under fire, that I appropriate it, giving due credit to 
the officer for his word-picture of this great battle. 

(The Tall Corporal on the Right.) 


" All that night other tired troops were coming in, until 
the whole army was on Malvern heights, where we knew 
we should have to fight them until night again. About 
noon they began to ieel our position, and we were pushed 
ahead on a most beautiful ground. I have called the fight 
at Malvern glorious ; it was so to me ior its results, and 
then it was plain, open, fair fight, no woods except what 
sheltered them, and from whence their infantry came, and 
to get at us they had to cross the long stretch of open 
country, where we could see them and be seen, and where 
we could maneuver and operate. Well, Butterfield's 
brigade was in front supporting batteries, Griffin's was on 
the left flank, and we were in rear of and ready to sup- 
port Butterfield. Our division being off to the left, we 
formed in double column at half distance, and laid down, 
and for about four hours we took solid shot, shell and can- 
ister, in awful profusion; the roar of cannon was tre- 
mendous, our batteries were playing magnificently on them 
in the woods, the gunboats were hurling their shell over 
our heads into the enemy, and the enemy were doing the 
best they could, opening battery after battery in new posi- 
tions. The noise was infernal, and our losses began to be 
respectable. I do not believe that troops have often lain so 
long under as hot a fire as my fellows did. It is the most 
trying position a soldier has to endure, to stand these hor- 
rid missiles, crouched low, seeing them strike all about him, 
hearing them burst all around him, and } r et unable to move 
or do a thing but wait in that awful suspense. Now a 
pause, and your heart beats quicker, for you know they are 
getting a new range. Zim ! now it comes, and they have 
got a cross fire on j^ou — grin and bear it — shut your teeth 
and swear and beg for a chance to move on them — anything 
but this. But no faltering, not a bit of it; occasionally, 
yes, frequently, some poor fellow picks up his leg or his 
arm, and hobbles off to the rear; then some fellow, less 
fortunate, has to be picked up. Finally, a stop to their 
shell — and the roar of our batteries, and after a little the 
crash of musketry, tell us their infantry is coming. We are 
where we cannot see now, but we hear the cannon roar, 
and now the roar of musketry is prolonged and heavy — 
now apparently coming nearer, now receding a little, and 

3 54 


our strained ears catch it all. Now the music comes nearer, 
and even the balls begin to whiz nearer us, and we fear our 
fellows are getting worsted — a little longer and up comes 
the aid : 

"Colonel, deploy your column ! " 
I bounded with glad heart to my feet, and in a moment 
we were in as pretty a line of battle as you have ever seen. 
Now comes the general. 

"Move forward to the brow of the slope yonder, lie 
down, and if the enemy break our line, charge him." 

"All right, sir. Forward! guide center! " and with the 
cheers of our comrades and our own hurrah, the whole line 
forged ahead, steady as a clock. Spang! go the balls now — 
thicker, closer they fly. We gain our place; we cheer and 
-cheer again to give our fellows heart, and then I order them 
down, and go along the line and tell them just what I am 
going to do, and they say they " will do it well." Not long 
there, when in hot haste from the front comes a messenger 
from the 83d Pennsylvania, saying that it and the 44th 
New York were hard pressed, out of ammunition, and must 
have help. No general in sight. It was just what I wanted. 
"Rise up! Forward! " and with another cheer we moved 
on, through fire and smoke, right into the field. I moved by 
a flank, to gain ground to the left; then to the front again, 
and they lying down, I moved right over the 83d and 44th, 
and my line was formed to the front of them. The batteries on 
our right were thundering on the enemy, as his infantry 
poured out from the woods, and charged, and charged 
again, only to be repulsed. I opened fire, and kept it up 
vigorously until their fire stopped, and they disappeared. 
They were fearfully slaughtered; they would move up 
bravely across the field up to short distance before they 
would have to give back. Everywhere it Was the same that 
day, and finally night came on and the carnage ceased. 
* * * I lost in that week 210 men, 190 killed and 
wounded. * * * I verily believe, if we had 20,000 fresh 
troops the morning after Malvern, we could have pushed 
into Richmond. They couldn't gain an inch on us, and we 
slaughtered them till we believed they were running to 
Richmond. They thought they had us — in front and on 
flank they pushed us. Richmond was close by, and fresh 


troops could be poured out, but every day they were 
repulsed— sometimes twice a day, our poor fellows fighting 
again and again, while the}' hurled fresh columns against 
us. and yet we came to this point and they couldn't 
tight us."" 

Gen. McClellan's panegyric on the efforts of the Army of 
the Potomac throughout the Seven Days' battles, is here 

"To the calm judgment of history and the future I leave 
the task of pronouncing upon this movement, confident 
that its verdict will be that no such difficult movement was 
ever more successfully executed ; that no army ever fought 
more repeatedly, heroically, and successfully against such 
great odds ; that no men of any race ever displayed greater 
discipline, endurance, patience, and cheerfulness under such 
hardships. My mind cannot coin expressions of thanks and 
admiration warm enough or intense enough to do justice to 
my feelings towards the army I am so proud to command. 
To my countrymen I confidently commit them, convinced 
they will ever honor every brave man who served during 
those seven historic days with the Army of the Potomac. 
Upon whatever field it may hereafter be called upon to act I 
ask that it may never lose its name, but may ever be known 
as 'The Army of the Potomac,' a name which it never has 
nor ever will disgrace."— Gen. McCleelan. 

On the arrival of the Sharpshooter regiment at 
Harrison's Landing a number of men returned to the different 
companies from the hospitals north, also some recruits 
arrived from time to time. Gen. Shields' division of troops 
having arrived from the Upper Potomac, was sent out to 
the front. On the afternoon of July 2d a heavy rain fell 
lasting all night, making the ground very w^et and muddy, 
causing the greatest discomfort to the weary troops who 
were mostly without shelter, tents or blankets, with little 
or nothing to eat ; who in consequence were anxious to get 
into comfortable camps so as to obtain the rest so greatly 
needed, also to provide for the sick and disabled. On the 3d 


the troops were brought hurriedly into line, crowding the 
entire plain, and kept standing for hours half-way to their 
knees in deep mud— virtually stuck fast — exposed for 
a time to the rapid shelling of a rebel battery that had 
been run up on a hill behind us, whereby the greatest excite- 
ment prevailed owing to the bursting of shells on different 
parts of the field, throwing mud and iron forward in a man- 
ner sufficient to demoralize other troops but those who had 
seen enough of hard service to grin and bear it. The effect 
on these soldiers, rather was to madden them, and they 
would have made it sorry sport for those "rebellious vaga- 
bonds" who caused this great rumpus, could they have got 
them down on that muddy field, in that sea of mud, where 
not a dry spot could be found to sit or kneel, forcing them to 
stand up for a half-day. It is true some of our boys spied a 
dead horse and crowded on to the carcass as if to smother 
the very smell of it, strong and offensive as it was. That 
old horse was a perfect oasis in that desert of mud, whose 
body could scarce be seen because of the men on top of it. 
A truly glorious ending it was of this war horse's 
career, to be thus the means of alleviating the great suffer- 
ing of the exhausted soldiers, in furnishing them a place of 
rest. One of the poets astraddle the hind quarters, indited 
the following, at the risk of being ducked in the mud, but he 
held his grip and begged off: 

Old Horse ! Old Horse ! We find you here, 

That plunged in battle fully a year, 
You neighed for glory, you reared for fame, 

To die in the mud on this vast plain. 

On the 4th camp was prepared, and in course of time the 
detached companies were returned to the regiment where 
Col. Berdan had his headquarters. On the 8th of July 
President Lincoln came on and reviewed the troops by 
moonlight. A few days thereafter Gen. McClellan, review- 
ing the troops, on appearing before the Sharpshooters 


expressed sorrow at their losses, at their decimated ranks. 
Riding close up to them, he shook his head saying to an 
aide: "It's too bad! But they are good what is left of 
them." Quite a number died at this encampment; among 
the Sharpshooters were: Company A, Private Christian 
Schiffman, their first death from sickness; Company E, J. 
Tatro, said to have been killed; Company F, Benajah 
W. Jordan and James A Read, who died of wounds 
received at Gaines' Mill, while W. S. Tarbell died of disease; 
Company G, Sergt. Shepherd K. Melvin and Private John 
T! Vincent. They were buried low in the shade of the deep 
wood, by their remaining comrades, and parting salutes 
fired over their graves. Gray blankets were their only 
shroud, with a net work of branches below andabovethem, 
the whole carefully covered with earth shaped on top into 
still another of those little mounds so frequently found 
along the track of the contending hosts. Private Alexander 
Merrick also died in hospital at Alexandria. 

A number of the sick were hurried northward, greatlv 
reduced, who would no doubt in a majority of cases have 
died on the banks of the James, had not this change been 
made. The weather at Harrison's Landing being very warm 
and sultry much sickness prevailed, although the rations 
furnished were of the best quality, and included different 
kinds of vegetables. Loads of lemons arrived, which were 
very beneficial to the soldiers who munched them down as 
they would a peach. In this connection reference is made 
to the morning report of Company G on the 10th of July — 
and but few of the other companies could make a better 

For duty — First sergeant, 3 corporals, 1 bugler, and 21 
privates. Total, 26. 

Off duty — Lieutenant and 25 enlisted men. Extra 
duty, 5. 


About this time (July 8th) the regimental quartermaster, 
Lieut. Beebe, resigned, and was succeeded by Lieut. George 
A. Marden, of New Hampshire. Company A also lost their 
first lieutenant, Magnus Falstich, who had been sick in 
general hospital and resigned July 15th. Hosts of flies 
swarmed around this encampment, which were a source of 
great discomfort, and every imaginable way was tried to 
get rid of them, without success. The only ones who could 
stand the pests were the southern darkies with our troops, 
who would sleep in the broiling sun, their faces covered 
with flies, just as if they were used to it and enjoyed the 
nap. But little could be done in the way of drilling, and 
among the Sharpshooters target practice was indulged in 
as a recreation. Recruiting parties were sent off to the 
different states to fill the vacant ranks. It was a good time 
to go on this service, for while new regiments were forming 
all through the North, the old ones must be recruited up, it 
was of more importance to have them filled; besides, the 
new soldiers learned quicker right in the ranks of the old 
companies, with a veteran either side of them. 

Nothing of importance transpired in the Sharpshooter 
organization up to the time of the evacuation of the place 
by the Union army en route north, although considerable 
excitement was occasioned at an early hour on the morning 
of August 1st before daybreak, by the appearance of the 
enemy on the opposite bank of the James, who opened 
furiously with their ba teries upon the Union encampment. 
This unexpected shelling was responded to by our land 
batteries and the monitor in the river, the gunboats having 
gone above, when order was again restored, and troops 
were dispatched across the river to occupy the position 
which had been taken up by the rebel gunners, they decamp- 
ing. After burning some buildings which had sheltered the 
enemy, and slashing down the woods where they had hid, 


the troops returned; little damage being occasioned and 
that principally to the steamboats, although some cavalry 
men and horses were unfortunately killed and wounded 
near the river. 




On the 18th of March the Second Sharpshooters, com- 
manded by Col. Post, being attached to King's division of 
McDowell's corps, crossed the Potomac and went into 
temporary camp at Fort Ward, where they remained until 
April 4th. Col. Stoughton says: "We were brigaded with 
the 14th Brooklyn Zouaves, 22d, 24th and 30th New York 
Volunteers, Gen. C. C. Augur commanding; and to which 
brigade was attached Battery B, 4th U. S. Artillery, Capt. 
John Gibbon commanding; also two regiments of cavalry 
commanded by Col. Bayard and Col. Kilpatrick. All of 
these three last named officers were promoted to brigadier- 
generals before hardly a month had passed." He mentioned 
this to show the good company the "Second" found them- 
selves in, from the start. Brave boys were they, all of 
them, from the high private in the rear rank, up through 
the different grades, to general. 

Taking up the line of march, the men being weighted 
down with heavily-loaded knapsacks, they passed through 
Manassas; where, as Col. Peteler said, "they encoun- 
tered the formidable wooden guns left by the rebels," and 
proceeding southerly encamped at Bristoe Station from the 
6th to the 16th. Moving on by Catlett's, they were ordered 
to quicken their steps, whereby they became assured that 


something more formidable than guns of wood would soon 
confront them. 

The first night out the picket guard brought in a man 
representing himself to be a scout of Gen. Augur. He was 
dressed up like a Virginia farmer, and thecommanding officer 
wished to know what he had to show he was a Union 
scout. He then asked for an army screw-driver, which was 
furnished, when he proceeded to unscrew the guard of his 
pistol, discovering, stowed away under the guard, a thin 
parchment in a recess in the pistol frame, which was a pass 
from Augui allowing him to go anywhere. In advancing 
next morning, this scout persisted in going with the 
skirmishers, but insisted on keeping ahead of the line some 
75 paces in the road, although cautioned by Col. Peteler to 
keep in line or he would possibly be mistaken for a rebel. 
Soon thereafter, one of our skirmishers, on the right of the 
line fully 400 yards off, shot at the scout and broke his leg. 
The unfortunate man felt terrible about being shot by our 
own men, said if he had been shot by the rebels he wouldn't 
have cared. When they took the ball out it looked like a 
minie ball such as the Confederates were using, and which 
is hollow at the butt; this made the scout feel better over it, 
but two weeks later another piece of the ball came out, 
showing that it was a solid bullet, such as were used in the 


April 18, 1862. 

Here the Second Sharpshooters had their first skirmish 
with the enemy. Advancing ahead of Augur's brigade they 
met the Confederate fire with their five-shooters in a manner 
that evidently surprised the foe, who little expected such 


rapid firing. The revolving chambers of the Colts were 
soon heated up, and right here a most favorable oppor- 
tunity was presented to test these heretofore doubtful arms; 
and the boys were compelled to admit that they were not 
so bad after all, having done good work with them. As our 
men advanced the enemy fell back, crossing the Rappa- 
hannock into Fredericksburg opposite, burning their bridges. 
From Fredericksburg they were soon driven away, when 
McDowell's corps entered the city. 

The object was to surprise the Confederates and secure 
the bridges without destroying them. Our cavalry pushed 
ahead about three a. m., when they ran into an ambuscade 
in a pine thicket, losing in killed 13 men and 30 horses. 
Gen. Augur then rode forward with an escort, informing 
both Cols. Post and Peteler before starting, that if the 
Sharpshooters were needed he would send back an order. 
Not very long after, rapid firing was heard ahead, at just 
before daylight. Going forward, Col. Peteler met Oliver J. 
Jones who, with Willard Wheaton, both of Company A, 
were on the picket line, who informed the colonel that they 
had "killed a rebel." To which Col. Peteler imme- 
diately responded: "You have killed one of our own men ! 
Look for orders in his pocket." Jones searched and sure 
enough found Augur's order for the Sharpshooters to 
advance. From this unfortunate affair, an attempt was 
made to criticise the Sharpshooters for being too eager — 
shooting too quick. But when it became generally known 
that the orderly when challenged by our men, drew his 
pistol and undertook to ride rough shod over the picket, 
and so was shot — hit five times — the "talk" subsided. 

Four companies under Col. Peteler now moved forward 
as skirmishers, the four reserve companies following under 
Col. Post. The skirmishing commenced about break of day 
and was kept up four miles over an open country, the enemy 
falling back as our men advanced. Reaching the battle 



field, Col. Peteler fired the first shot at Falmouth, 700 yards 
distance, at a party of men and horses at a toll-gate. The 
shot struck in front of them in the road, throwing up the 
dust. The tollman told the Sharpshooters afterwards: 
" When that single shot came, the commanding officer said, 

' Here comes the Yankees. Mount ! ' and as they did so 

the entire party rushed away." 

When our men got up on Falmouth heights over- 
looking Fredericksburg and the Rappahannock, the rebels 
were seen retreating even up Marye's Heights beyond the 
city. Here battery B, 4th artillery fired a few shots, their 
first firing in the war. From these heights a destructive 
scene was before them ; the four bridges on fire, with four 
steamboats and 22 schooners, the work of the rebel fire- 

In the latter part of May they marched 15 miles south 
of Fredericksburg, expecting to go on to join McClellan's 
arm}-, but, according to Lieut. -Col. Peteler, "the rebel 
general, Jackson, was reported to be advancing in four 
different directions" — wonderful Jackson. Here, after some 
exchanges between the Sharpshooters and rebel cavalry, 
driving the latter away, the regiment returned to Fred- 
ericksburg and then made a forced march towards Front 
Royal. On the 1st of June the Sharpshooters were the 
unfortunate victims of a railroad collision near White 
Plains meeting with severe casualties — 44 men injured.* 
Returning again to Fredericksburg they exchanged their 
well used Colts for the Sharps rifles. 

"Lieut. Humphrey, of Vermont, says 18 of thetn were of his company (E), 
For names see roster. 



July 26, 1862. 

On July 24th Companies A and C, under Lieut. -Col. 
Peteler, took part in a reconnoissance commanded by Gen. 
Gibbon, making a forced march of 45 miles from Fredericks- 
burg to Orange Court House, where the Sharpshooters 
gallantly repulsed a rebel cavalry charge that threatened to 
capture some of our troops, for which good service these 
two companies were highly complimented by the general 
officers. Col. Peteler handled his men with much tact, and 
the line skirmished admirably. 

After advancing three-fourths of a mile, one of the 
men of Company A called Col. Peteler's attention ahead, 
where they discovered fully 1,500 rebel cavalry across an 
old field 600 yards wide. A few shots were fired at them 
when they turned and rode off. Shortly after, hearing a 
few beats of a drum ahead, Col. Peteler's experienced ear in 
such matters detected a movement of infantry, who were 
soon seen advancing to our right and rear, whereupon the 
Sharpshooters fell back on the reserve — the 2d Wisconsin — 
who were having a good rest, cooking breakfast, washing 
in the creek, bathing their feet, etc. Col. Peteler at once 
told Gen. Gibbon that they would be attacked in less than 
20 minutes; and told his own command not to go away 
from their guns, which he ordered stacked while they were 
trying to get a bite. A short time thereafter, the noise of 
clattering hoofs were heard coming down the plank road, 
which soon developed our cavalry videttes being driven in 
by the enemy. The Sharpshooters instantly falling in, 
wheeled to the right, across the road, where thev were ready 


for the rebs, driving them away. Their shots were found 
in a number of instances to have trajected over the entire 
length of a 700 yard field, and prisoners afterwards taken 
reported we had killed and wounded 30 of their men at that 

At the cross-roads, five miles from the Court House, I 
left the main body obstructing the roads to the right and 
left, and pushed forward with one regiment of infantry, the 
Rifles, two pieces of artillery, and the squadron of cavalry, 
somewhat reduced by detached pickets watching the roads 
coming in from the left in the direction of Gordonsville and 
Louisa Court House. We soon encountered the enemys' 
mounted pickets, drove them in and pushed on in pursuit. 
The country becoming more open, the cavalry showed itself 
in greater force. Skirmishers were thrown out, and the 
advance pushed to within one and one-half miles of the 
Court House, shots being occasionally exchanged between 
the two. * * * My instructions directed me to run no 
unnecessary risk in obtaining the information for which I 
was sent. I therefore proceeded no farther. The enemy's 
cavalry pursued us and made a dash at our rear guard, but 
was easily repulsed. * * * I returned on the morning of 
the 27th. The Second Wisconsin and the Rifles (Second U. 
S. Sharpshooters) were conspicuous during the march for 
their well filled ranks, losing very few men by straggling, 
although the weather was very warm and the marching on 
the way out rapid. — Gen. Gibbon. 

On their return trip, coming back through the Wilderness 
they took a lunch near a church, when Pony McGaffy 
(Henry C. '), of Company A, took it upon himself to officiate 
as chaplain and preached a sermon in the church, although 
I did not learn his text, but as near as I could find out from 
some of the company members, they having had some 
pretty hard hard-tack, he had considerable to say about 
B. C, and the 2d Wisconsin stealing corn. He also called 
for praise, or rather a vote of thanks to Col. Peteler, for 
having captured a half dozen geese with his revolver while 


near the Chancellor house ; so that the boys were in pretty 
good spirits after all, notwithstanding their hard usage. 

August 6th, moving south again from Fredericksburg, 
the regiment made a reconnoissance with other troops to 


Here they found that Stuart's cavalry were attempting a 
raid on us, while our cavalry were engaged in the same 
exciting pursuit on rebel territory. Our Sharpshooters, 
backing up the cavalry, took part in more or less skirmish- 
ing, which had the effect of defeating the plans of the Con- 
federate horsemen. The Sharpshooters also reconnoitered 
westerly from Guineys to the region around Spottsylvania. 
Having successfully accomplished the purpose for which 
they were sent out, they returned and crossed the river to 

On August 10th the}- left suddenly for Cedar Mountain, 
but were not engaged in that battle— Banks was falling 
back. Here they encamped until the 19th, when they 
moved back with Pope's army behind the Rappahannock, 
being the rear-guard. 


August 21-23, 1862. 

Gen. Hatch told Col. Post to send Col. Peteler with four 
companies of Sharpshooters to the river, where it was 
reported that a battery of rebel artillery and some cavalry 
were on our side of the stream, a mile away. Peteler's com- 
mand advanced in skirmish line towards the river over 
rolling ground, a succession of ridges, and while going up 
the last ridge next to the river, casually looking to the right 


over a corn field the lieutenant-colonel discovered a cloud of 
dust. Knowing that we had no troops in that direction, 
the signal to retreat was given, at the same time making a 
right wheel. Then hurrying to the right of the line, Col. 
Peteler looking up an old road to the right of the corn field, 
discovered rebel cavalry as far as he could see; they were 
closing up when discovered. Cautioning the skirmish line 
not to fire until ordered, Peteler went back to two com- 
panies in reserve commanded by Capt. Caldwell, bringing 
them into line where they could deliver fire effectively. A 
rebel shot passed Col. Peteler's knee, they being very close, 
and struck the ground. At the moment the cavalry were 
about to charge, our men opened fire with their breech- 
loaders. As soon as the Sharpshooters began firing, the 
cavalry at once jumped their horses and escaped through 
the corn field. The corn was high and the whole country 
about was overrun with horses, only seven men mounted 
got over the river by an old dam. The Sharpshooters 
captured the commanding officer; his horse being wounded, 
ran into our line, and tumbled into a ditch. Sergt.-Maj. 
Shoup and two others took the Confederate captain out of 
the ditch from under his horse. 

The first thing the irate captain said on being taken out 
of the ditch was: "I am a captain in Stuart's cavalry and 
wish to be taken prisoner by a commissioned officer." To 
which Shoup replied: "Well! Here's Col. Peteler, com- 
manding the line." Then the captain addressing the colonel 
very politely repeated about his being a "captain in Stuart's 
cavalry," and undertook to show that he was a person of 
some importance "down in Dixie," all of which "fine talk" 
notwithstanding, failed to impress our ready north-western 
colonel with anything better than sheer disgust at the airs 
the captain put on. Among other things in their conversa- 
tion, Col. Peteler asked him where Jackson was? His 
answer: "You'll hear from Jackson, he'll give you hell in 


two or three days," made our boys grin at his bombast. 
He then asked what regiment this was, and on being told 
they were Sharpshooters, said: "Yes, you d— d fellows 
wounded me at Fair Oaks"— probably Company L, with 1st 

As soon as the enemy across the river w r ho were on high 
ground, saw their own cavalry out of the wa}% they brought 
six pieces of artillery right in front, 300 yards off, and 
opened fire on our skirmish line with grape-shot and shell. 
The line rallied on the reserve and lay down behind a 

In the meantime Col. Peteler had told the sergeant- 
major in the rebel captain's hearing and to his disgust, to 
place him in charge of two privates and march him to therear 
to the provost guard ; but before he got away the enemy's bat- 
teries had opened, and the captain had to lay with the 
Sharpshooters and take the fire of his own guns. While 
thus lying under fire, the boys noticed a dirty white hand- 
kerchief hoisted high on a ramrod coming through the corn, 
and the owner carrying it cried aloud: "Don't shoot, 
don't shoot, I'm coming in;" our men hallooing back: 
"Come in, Johnny ! Come along, old boy." He was an old 
farmer looking fellow of about 45, and when within speak- 
ing distance he said: "I'm so glad I'm here. I've been 
looking for this chance for a long time; " and there lay his 
captain, who remarked: "Are you here? " "Yes, captain," 
he said half-surprised, "I am here, and — and — I'm d — d glad 
of it." Then our boys yelled, and yelled again, while the 
unfortunate captain of Stuart's cavalry, hadn't another 
word to say. 

Considerable amusement was created at this point by a 
man of Company A named Charles M. Jacobs (soon after 
killed ), who had been complaining that they -were drilled 
too much, at Camp of Instruction, Fredericksburg, etc., 
after making these sudden and successful movements in the 


presence of the enemy, exclaiming while on the skirmish line: 
"Well! By , our drilling wasn't for nothing." 

On the 23d they were sent to the river to prevent the 
rebels from crossing. During that afternoon, part of the 
regiment was near a spring in full view of the enemy 
on the other side of the river, but after dark the 
entire regiment moved behind a small hill into a pine grove. 
Company B was on picket along the river, and was 
instructed to open fire at daylight. During the night the 
rebs could be heard getting into position, placing batteries, 
etc., and promptly at daylight they opened with these can- 
non, while the smoke and fog was so dense that the Sharp- 
shooters could do nothing effective, and found themselves 
between two armies with 120 pieces of artillery doing their 
best. The first fire of the rebel battery opposite our position 
was directed to that spring where our men cooked our coffee 
the evening before, but now fortunately for our boys they 
were not there. The firing lasted over two hours, and the 
Sharpshooters lying in close column in the pine grove behind 
that little hill, were literally covered with pine limbs — to 
their great discomfort if not amazement — and one tree 
knocked down by this terrible artillerj' fire of friends and 
foes, after it fell and before a word was spoken or command 
given, Henry Page of Company A, spoke up in a loud voice 
calling to Lieut. -Col. Peteler, saying: "Colonel, I want to 
go home." There were many narrow escapes that morning, 
before the Confederates fell back from the river. 

While supporting a battery, Sergeant Preston Cooper, 
of Company A, had a shell burst on his cartridge box, which 
took the flesh off the small of his back, and for nine months 
thereafter he couldn't lie on his back. The same shell killed 
two corporals and wounded three others in rear of 
Sergt. Cooper. 



August 26, 1862. 

At this place the Sharpshooters drove a rebel battery 
off the field. Two of the companies had been on duty 
guarding a signal station at Luray mountain, which 
brought the regiment for that morning in rear of the divis- 
ion. The advance, Patrick's brigade, was fighting at 
Sulphur Springs, when an aide of Gen. McDowell, galloping 
back to the Sharpshooters then on the way bringing up the 
rear, ordered them to double-quick to the front. Arriving, 
they quickly deployed right and left near the river, and in 
10 minutes after taking the position the rebel lines on the 
opposite side of the Rappahannock were entirely silenced. 
The enemy found good rifles in front of them, and men who 
knew how to handle them, and they hunted their holes. 
This was about nine a. m. ; they remaining silent until about 
four p. m., when a flag of truce came down to the burnt 
bridge to parley with our officers about a prisoner (a 
woman) ; then the rebel line close to the river, rose up and 
skedaddled over the hill, taking advantage of the truce to 
get out from under the Sharpshooters' guns. 

Cols. Post and Peteler had a narrow escape from Con- 
federate sharpshooters, whose bullets sounded very much 
like Whitworth's. T'he two colonels were standing in front 
of a board fence at the burnt hotel (burned by Sigel the day 
before) ; Col. Post with glasses was looking up the hiding 
places of the rebels, telling Col. Peteler where he thought 
there was one in a corner of a fence 400 yards off. Col. 
Peteler, who always carried a rifle, took a shot at the sup- 
posed place, but from where he stood couldn't see any one; 


then, while loading for the second shot and capping his 
rifle, Col. Post meanwhile looking through his glasses which 
brought their elbows about six inches apart standing side 
by side, a rebel ball from off to the right 500 yards, struck 
the board fence right in rear between their elbows. The 
boys noticed the shot, and the puff of smoke from behind a 
pile of rails and went for them, sending the Sharps bullets in 
around the rails like so much hail. This showed that the 
Johnnies had some good guns and good shots. 

Pushing forward, they approached Manassas, on which 
field they were again to prove their valor, and effective 
service as Sharpshooters. 



Harrison's landing to Washington. 

About the middle of August the army of the Potomac 
left Harrison's Landing by land and water for the vicinity 
of Washington, per orders from the new general-in-chief, 
Gen. Halleck, against the urgent protests of Gen. McClellan 
who wished to advance from that point on Richmond, and 
was about ready to commence the movement when the 
imperative order came to fall back. 

With McClellan gone, Lee at once sent forward his 
troops to reinforce Jackson who was making every effort to 
get into Pope's rear. This latter general — now in com- 
mand of the "Army of Virginia"— was naturally very 
anxious to get his troops together, and to have that por- 
tion of McClellan's army which was to join him, hurry 
forward — and this they were doing. The enemy were 
crowding him close, and great excitement prevailed all along 
the line from the Rappahannock to the Potomac at Wash- 
ington ; while at the same time the people of the northern 
states were impatiently awaiting the outcome — hoping for 
the best. Sensational rumors were frequent, and were 
reported to the people by the press with startling headlines, 
so that the excitement was at fever heat: "McClellan left 


the Peninsula — Lee advancing on Washington— Pope in 
command of the Army of Virginia." 

But the greatest sensation of the time, and which spread 
far and wide through the army, was the affair of the 22d of 
August, when the Confederate cavalry ~ leader, Gen. J. E. B. 
Stuart, in the midst of darkness approached Catlett's 
Station and suddenly charging thereon under a negro guide, 
captured a portion of Pope's staff and his dispatch book, 
thus giving the enemy information of our situation as to 
need of reinforcements, plans, etc. 

Gen. Stuart (official records) gives this report of the 
raid: "Having," he says, "captured the picket, we soon 
found ourselves in the midst of the enemy's encampments, 
but the darkest night lever knew. Fortunately we captured 
at this moment, so critical, a negro who had known me in 
Berkely, and who, recognizing me, informed me of the loca- 
tion of Gen. Pope's staff, baggage, horses, etc., and offered 
to guide to the spot. After a brief consultation it was 
determined to accept the negro's proposition, as whatever 
was to be done had to be done quickly, and Brig.-Gen. Fitz 
Lee selected Col. W. H. F. Lee's regiment for the work. 
The latter led his command boldly to within a few feet of 
the tents occupied by the convivial staff of Gen. Pope and 
charged the camp, capturing a large number of prisoners, 
particularly officers, and securing public property to a 
fabulous amount. * * * The men of the command had 
secured Pope's uniform, his horses and equipments, money- 
chests, and a great variety of uniforms and personal bag- 
gage, but what was of peculiar value was the dispatch-book 
of Gen. Pope, which contained information of great 
importance to us, throwing light upon the strength, move- 
ments, and designs of the enemy, and disclosing Gen. Pope's 
own views against his ability to defend the line of the 

Gen. Pope expressed his indignation at the failure of his 
own troops to prevent the raid, in words following: "On 
the night of the 22d of August a small cavalry force of the 
enemy, crossing at Waterloo Bridge and passing through 
Warrenton had made a raid upon our trains at Catlett's 


Station, and had destroyed four or five wagons in all, 
belonging to the train of my own headquarters. At the 
time this cavalry force attacked at Catlett's — and it cer- 
tainly was not more than 300 strong— our whole 
army trains were parked at that place, and were guarded 
by not less than 1,500 infantry and five companies of 
cavalry. The success of this small cavalry party of the 
enemy, although very trifling and attended with but little 
damage, was most disgraceful to the force which had been 
left in charge of the trains." 

Considering, that the night was so extremely dark, the 
enemy's cavalry, one of the boldest and best of that arm of 
service North or South, it is not more surprising that this 
raid succeeded than that we were not betrayed oftener, 
with so many intelligent contrabands allowed to remain in 
the camps — negroes picked up on every line of march. 

But to my story : On the 14th of August as part of the 
5th corps, the Sharpshooters began their march overland, 
passing through Williamsburg, Yorktown and Hampton, 
marching steadily each day, sometimes at night, arriving at 
Newport News near the mouth of the James on the 18th, a 
distance of 70 miles. Before starting, knapsacks were 
turned in to the quartermaster, also surplus baggage — 
everything done to make light marching possible. Many 
members were scarcely able to walk at first, from the effects 
of disability, but as they moved on the}' improved, and by 
the time they reached the end of the Peninsula were fast 
regaining their strength and health. Green fruit found 
along the line of march helped them greatly; it proved to be 
better in the worst cases of dysentery than the doctor's 
pills and powders. What under other circumstances would 
have tended to cholera-morbus, seemed now a substantial 
cure for their ailments. Embarking on transports at 
Newport News, on the 21st they sailed to Acquia Creek 
arriving there the morning of the 22d. This was the termi- 
nus ©f a railroad running to Richmond via Fredericksburg, 


on the south bank of the Potomac. Here again, small 
boats were used to reach shore, the big steamers being 
unable to land as the water was too low. It was tedious, 
and somewhat risky from capsizing. Taking cars for 
Falmouth 12 miles south, they again resumed the march 
late in the afternoon, going westerly until two a. m. of the 
23d when they halted till daylight, then continuing on until 
noon, bivouacking at Barnett's Ford. During the day 
heavy cannonading was heard farther west where Gen. 
Pope's troops were engaging the enemy while on their way 
north. The 5th corps remained near the ford to prevent 
any attempt at crossing the stream by the Confederates, 
should they appear. Twenty-fourth, changed position to 
points along the Warrenton pike, and on the 25th again 
near the river. On the 26th repassing Barnett's, marched 
all day and night along the Orange & Alexandria rail- 
road from Rappahannock Station northerly towards 
Bealeton Station; on the 27th made a particularly hard 
march of 20 miles, going into, camp at five p. m. near 
Warrenton Junction, in an open field by the roadside, 
suffering much from oppressive heat and want of water. 

At half-past nine p. m. orders were received to draw 
three days rations, and be ready to march again at one 
o'clock the morning of the 28th. Promptly at that hour 
Col. Berdan ordered his regiment in line, and moved 
towards the road, but in doing so, was surprised to find 
troops in front of him asleep, with no sign of their prepar- 
ing to march. As the colonel marched the Sharpshooters 
over these regiments in the dark, a great disturbance was 
kicked up and a good deal of loud swearing, by officers and 
men of the sleeping regiments. But Col. Berdan kept right 
on until he reached the road, when he ordered a halt and to 
break ranks. Now, the colonel received more blame and 
grumbling from his own men, who did not know that he 
was not notified that the original order to march at one a.m. 


had been countermanded. The regiment being one of the 
farthest from the road in the brigade, had evidently been 
overlooked, or at least not found by the officer intrusted 
with the countermanding order; so, Col. Berdan was 
blamed, first by the sleeping regiments, and again by his 
own because they too could not have slept. Had he con- 
descended to go amongst them and explain how it occurred, 
they no doubt would have excused him, but he says: "it 
wasn't military," so he "silently took it all, in grief at his 
command, coupled with feelings of disgust at the result of 
his efforts to obey orders to march on time." The 
Sharpshooters had always given him due credit for prompt- 
ness, but this time they seemed to think he had blundered; 
probably because of their broken rest in their greatly 
fatigued condition. Had the aide completed his whole 
duty, by notifying all the regimental commanders, this 
unpleasant episode would not have happened. 

The regimental commissary, Frank Whipple, of Com- 
pany C, assisted by Thomas McCaul, of Company G, drew 
the rations at headquarters, the night being very dark ; so 
dark, that Straw, the wagon-master, accompanied by 
McCaul, had to go ahead feeling the way, to keep the team 
in the road to headquarters and back. When they returned 
they found the order to march changed to three a. m., at 
which time when the regiment moved into the road it was 
already filled with troops, also crowded with Pope's 
wagons — a perfect jam at times en route — making the move- 
ment a difficult one and naturally much slower than usual, 
delaying their arrival at Bristoe Station, 10 miles travel, until 
between eight and ten in the forenoon— that is, the 5th 
corps was all up and in line by ten o'clock the morning of 
the 28th. The Second Regiment of Sharpshooters were 
met with at Bristoe, they having undergone hard service 
and suffered considerable loss. 



August 28 to September 1. 

[What is known as the "Second Bull Run." comprised all the conflicts on the 
Plains of Manassas on different days and at different places, principally the 
actions at Gainesville, Groveton and Chantilly, and by these names they are 

The afternoon of August 27th Hooker's division of 
McClellan's army was engaged with the enemy at Bristoe 
Station, the latter falling back from that point during the 


August 28, 1S62. 

Gibbon's brigade of King's division, composed of the 
19th Indiana, 2d, 6th and 7th Wisconsin, encountered the 
enemy in a desperate action on the Warrenton pike east of 
Gainesville, in the evening, meeting with heavy losses. 
They were moving towards Centreville at the time, and ran 
into Jackson's troops. After the battle they held their 
ground on the turnpike until midnight, then fell back to 
Manassas Junction. During the fight they were reinforced 
by the 56th Pennsylvania and 76th New York from Double- 
day's brigade, which was following Gibbon in the line of 

Gen. Doubleday speaks of it thus : "Gen. Gibbon was 
received with a tremendous fire from a large army in posi- 
tion, under Jackson, Ewell and Taliaferro. Knowing he 
would be overpowered if not succored, I immediately com- 


plied with his earnest request and sent him the two regi- 
ments referred to, leaving myself but one regiment in 

The Second Sharpshooters were also in this fight, 
taking part therein with Hatch's brigade, principally under 
heavy artillery fire, meeting with little loss. Hatch had led 
in the column, and returned to Gibbon's aid as quickly as 
he could, but not in time to change the result. While the 
Sharpshooters were in advance before Gibbon struck the 
enemy, Cols. Post and Peteler sent Adjutant Parmelee back 
to Gen. Hatch warning him that the rebels were in line of 
battle on our left, but that general refused to believe it, 
although he came at once forward, saying there were no 
rebels anywhere near there, and took no heed of the Sharp- 
shooter's report ; which if he had, would have doubtless 
prevented that disastrous action with its great and fruit- 
less loss of life. The Sharpshooters were ahead and saw 
the enemy— that's what they were out there for. It was 
not very long thereafter, before it got to be understood that 
the Sharpshooters' report from the extreme front, was to be 
depended on. 

The Confederate Gen. Jackson said: "The Federals did 
not attempt to advance, but maintained their ground with 
obstinate determination. Both lines stood exposed to the 
discharge of musketry and artillery until about nine o'clock, 
when the enemy slowly fell back, yielding the field to our 

This is high testimony to the gallant manner in which 
Gibbon's brigade behaved in this action, they also receiving 
a complimentary notice from their general commanding; 
thus earning a lasting reputation, second to no other body 
of troops in the army. A Sharpshooter taken prisoner at 
Second Bull Run, overheard Gen. Jackson ask a member of 
the 7th regiment, "what troops were those with the black 
hats, and how many of them , " and when informed there 

IN Till-: ARMY Ol- Tllli POTOMAC. 179 

w;is but a brigade opposed to his division, the rebel 
chieftain would not believe it, considering it impossible that 
his superior force could be held in check by so small a num- 
ber of men ; while the officers generally, admitted that 
"those black-hatted fellows fought like tigers." 


August 29, 1862. 

The 5th corps remained at Bristoe all day and night of 
the 28th, when orders having been received at corps head- 
quarters to march immediately beyond Bull Run to Centre- 
ville, Gen. Porter started his command at an early hour on 
the 29th, eventually passing by Manassas Junction to be 
halted by countermanding orders from Gen. Pope, who 
turned him back to the new front beyond the Junction 
westerly, towards Gainesville. During the day fighting had 
been going on afar off to our right, in front of Sigel's corps, 
along an extended line running northward beyond Groveton 
to near Sudley's Church; with a large interval of forests 
between these troops and Porter's corps, which formed the 
Union left, on the Manassas Gap railroad two miles west of 
Bethlehem Church — Gen. Reynold's troops, nearest to Por- 
ter's right wing, being two miles away, which was no con- 
nection whatever, but a bad gap. The enemy strongly 
posted under Jackson, connected on his right with 
Longstreet, the latter extending down to our left, which 
was guarded by some 8,000 men of the 5th corps— Morell's 
and Sykes' divisions. 

Porter became aware of the fact that Longstreet was 
opposing him, from the reports of the Sharpshooters and 
the 13th New York, who had crossed the Branch in the fore- 
noon in advance as skirmishers; also from the knowledge 


received through Gen. McDowell from Buford'scavalry that 
17 regiments of the enemy's infantry, a battery and some 
cavalry, had passed through Gainesville three and a half 
miles west of Porter's position, early that morning, and 
had moved down on to the line in his front, where our men 
captured some of his scouts. The Sharpshooters were on 
duty most of the day in line of battle, with Butterfield's 
brigade on the extreme left of the corps, having been recalled 
as skirmishers about an hour after Gen. McDowell told 
Porter he was "too far out," when the line of battle was 
re-formed on the east side of the Branch, the 13th New York 
remaining in advance in their original position. Gen. 
Porter's troops stayed on the field over night, the skirmish- 
ers in front, until about three o'clock next morning when 
they were withdrawn by order of Gen. Pope, to fall back 
and take the road to Groveton. The casualties in Berdan's 
regiment were not very extensive, yet serious: 

Co. D — Wounded: Sergt. William 0. McLean, mortal. 

Co. I — Wounded: Daniel Warren. 

Co. K— Wounded: Norman Wilson, mortal, and 

Loomis, in head by piece of shell. 

The position occupied this day at Dawkin's Branch by 
the 5th corps, previously reduced in numbers by the with- 
drawal of the Pennsylvania Reserves now under Reynolds, 
was of the utmost importance to the Union cause, being on 
the left of the battle-line proper confronted by the enemy, 
who were thus held in check from a flank movement. 

This is the field wherein Pope declared that Porter had 
betrayed the Union cause. This is the field whereon the 
Military" Board of Review appointed by President Hayes, 
declared that Porter was the means of saving the Union 
■\rrny from disaster. However it may be; and to the 
unprejudiced mind I will leave it, to look through non- 
political eyes for their calm judgment, as to whether Porter 
was wrong, or Pope was mistaken; I at least can congratu- 


late my comrades of the 5th corps, that no tarnish can be 
placed on their escutcheon. For, with all due respect and 
proper credit to the generals, this book is dedicated to the 
men who handled the instruments that did the fighting. 
And whoever attacks the reputation of the 5th corps, or the 
Army of the Potomac, had better be in some other business. 
The Second Sharpshooters, in Hatch's brigade of 
McDowell's corps, were deployed late in the afternoon of the 
29th, after considerable moving about that day, and as 
skirmishers fought with their brigade three-fourths of an 
hour on the Centreville Road, east of Gainesville, the 
enemy being found well posted and in great force in their 

After marching about three-quarters of a mile the Second 
Regiment of U. S. Sharpshooters was deployed to the front 
as skirmishers, the column continuing up the road in sup- 
port. The advance almost immediately became warmly 
engaged on the left of the road. Two howitzers were then 
placed in position, one on each side of the road, and 
Doubleday's brigade was deployed to the front, on the left 
of the road, and moved up to the support of the skirmishers. 
We were met by a force consisting of three brigades of 
infantry, one of which was posted in the woods on the left, 
parallel to and about an eighth of a mile from the road. 
The two other brigades were drawn up in line of battle, one 
on each side of the road. These were in turn supported by 
a large portion of the rebel forces, estimated by a prisoner 
at about 30,000 men, drawn up in successive lines, extend- 
ing one and a half miles to the rear. — Gen. Hatch. 

The Sharpshooters were deployed, four companies to 
the right of the road under Col. Peteler, and four to the left 
under Col. Post. Crawling up the hill, when they reached 
the top they butted against the whole rebel corps, and the 
colonels commanding reported back the situation, which at 
first one of our generals could hardly believe, but was forced 
to soon after. The Sharpshooters held their ground alone 


and deserted until long after dark when they succeeded in 
getting away, Company A having six men captured along 
with the second lieutenant, James E. Doughty. The service 
on this occasion was very trying and well done. When the 
brigade went in, one of our batteries was losing a gun; and 
the 24th New York, later on, just about dark when the 
fighting was pretty well over for the day, lost their flag. 
Relative to this capture, Col. William T. Wofford, 18th 
Georgia (rebel) of Hood's brigade, says in his report pub- 
lished in the Official Records (U. S.) : " Wecaptnred a stand 
of colors from the 24th New York regiment, and took 53 
prisoners, belonging respectively, to the 24th, 44th and 
17th New York." The flag of the 24th New York was 
retaken by Col. Post in person, who on seeing it going off 
the field in the possession of only a few men, galloped hard 
after them, caught the flag-staff and wrenched it from the 
man, then wheeled and put the spurs to his horse, wh ; ch 
was a good Union horse as she gave her heels to one of the 
Johnnies, sending him sprawling out, astonishing the others 
so, that the colonel came oft* with the flag. This most 
interesting incident connected with that rebel capture, the 
Confederate colonel failed to report. 


August 30, 1862. 

Owing to a mistake made by Gen. Griffin's brigade and 
some other troops — along with them Gen. Morell— in miss- 
ing the road in the darkness and going on to Centreville, 
the 5th corps was now only about 6,000 strong, which, 
moving by the Sudley road, arrived at the Warrenton pike 
at "Old Stone House" east of the little village of Groveton, 
about sunrise, after a quick march, taking position in the 


center of the new battle field. The fight commenced in the 
alternoon on the enemy's left wing under Jackson, by the 
brigades of Butterfdeld and 1 Barnes of Morell's division, 
(Griffin having gone astray), and by the division of Sykes — 
the Regulars. The enemy's line (Jackson's), extended along 
an old abandoned railroad from Groveton north towards 
Sudley Church, with Longstreet to the south on Jackson's 
right. Gen. Porter's corps was on the left of the Union line 
and had charged close up to the rebel works, where after a 
most determined battle, the}- were flanked by Longstreet's 
cannon and forced back with serious loss — 2,151 killed and 
wounded out of 6,000, over one-third, showing the fearful 
cost of that unequal struggle. It was a brave attempt 
in the face of every description of fatal missiles from big- 
mouthed cannon and rapid musketry, spitting fire in deathly 
music that occupied in its intensity of sound the entire 
space in front and around them. The air was thick with 
balls of lead and iron — a perfect raining down from the 
mounted heights before them. Despite all, they pressed on, 
up the fatal slope, until within almost grasping distance of 
the enemy's flags, and the day seemed ours, when Jackson's 
Iresh reserves came to the front scarce 50 feet distant, add- 
ing more thousands to the merciless bullets sent tearing 
through the Union ranks. The advance was stopped, and 
our men fell back leaving the field strewed with their 

Warren's decimated brigade made an heroic attempt to 
stem the bloody tide, but were fin all}' obliged to retire under 
the terrible pressure to the ridge behind them, where the 
Regulars and Reserves made a stand that stopped the fur- 
ther advance of the elated Confederates. But though the 
enemy succeeded in driving us from their works — within 
almost touching distance — yet as they failed to follow it up 
by forcing our men from our own ground, where the 5th 


corps awaited their coming, it may fairly be called a drawn 
battle, so far as any decisive results were concerned. 

The rebel commander, Gen. Lee, thus reports the fight: 
"About three P. m. the enemy having massed his troops in 
front of Gen. Jackson, advanced against his position in 
strong force. His front line pushed forward until engaged 
at close quarters by Jackson's troops, when its progress 
was checked, and a fierce and bloody struggle ensued. A 
second and third line, of great strength, moved up to sup- 
port the first, but in doing so came within easy range 
of a position a little in advance of Longstreet's left. He 
immediately ordered up two batteries, and two others being 
thrown forward about the same time by Col. S. D. Lee, 
under their well directed and destructive fire the supporting 
lines were broken and fell back in confusion. Their repeated 
efforts to rally were unavailing, and Jackson's troops being 
thus relieved from the pressure of overwhelming numbers, 
began to press steadily forward, driving the enemy before 
them. He retreated in confusion, suffering severely from 
our artillery, which advanced as he retired. Gen. Long- 
street, anticipating the order for a general advance, now 
threw his whole command against the Federal center and 

Col. Berdan was ordered by Gen. Butterfield with whose 
division the Sharpshooters were acting, to deploy his regi- 
ment in front and advance through a piece of woods, when 
he was to halt his command and report the situation of the 
enemy in front, awaiting further orders. Having success- 
fully skirmished the woods and finding a large force of the 
enemy confronting him, he at once reported back to Butter- 
field, who showed him an order this general had received, to 
push on through the woods; but as the colonel was persis- 
tent in his belief that it would do no good without a strong 
support, he was informed he might show his diagram to 
Gen. Porter. When Berdan returned to the line, after the 
skirmishers of the 1st (and right) brigade came up, con- 
necting with his left, he notified Col. Roberts commanding 


the brigade, that it would be useless to advance farther as 
the enemy were already on their right and rear. Col. 
Roberts at once seeing the correctness of the statement 
halted his line, replying: "Colonel, you are right— you are 
certainly right." He then awaited more support. 

In his official report Col. Roberts says: "Upon Satur- 
day, the 30th inst. between the hours of three and four a. 
m , * * * I received orders from Maj.-Gen. Morell to 
break camp or bivouac, with as little confusion as possible. 
* * * My directions were to follow in the rear of Col. 
Berdan's regiment U. S. Sharpshooters. * * * Approach- 
ing near Groveton, I was directed by Gen. Butterfield, in 
command of the division, to move the brigade to the 
extreme front. * * * In this position we remained nearly 
two hours awaiting the movements of the enemy, but, 
with the exception of a scattering fire from my skirmishers, 
also from those of Col. Berdan's regiment to the extreme 
front, and an occasional shell or round shot whizzing 
harmlessly over our heads, the coming battle seemed to be 
at a stand. At this juncture, between the hours of eleven 
a. m. and twelve m., I received through Gen. Butterfield from 
Maj.-Gen. Porter an order to advance my skirmishers briskly 
through the skirt of woods to my front, and following 
with my command to attack the enemy, take possession of 
a railroad excavation located just through the woods on 
my right, to then sweep around to the left, and advance 
upon the batteries of the enemy posted upon a hill some 
distance to my left, the above order assuring me that I 
would receive from the forces under Gen. King (McDowell's 
corps) a vigorous support on my right. I at once com- 
menced executing the order, my skirmishers advancing 
through the skirt of woods, the command following 
them closel}-. We had passed nearly through the belt of 
timber to our front, when upon the opposite edge beyond the 
wood my skirmishers receiving an exceedingly hot musketry 
fire from the railroad cut, were obliged to halt. Cols. 
Johnson and Berd an immediately notified me that unless 
they could have better support from the skirmishers on 
their right, it would be impossible to advance farther. 
Upon going to the front I found that their report was cor- 


rect ; Capt. Spear being wounded at this point by the 
enemy's cross-fire. Fearing that our skirmishers did not 
properly connect with those of Gen. King's on the right, I 
deployed two companies of the 18th Massachusetts to cor- 
•rect the error, if possible, which they succeeded in doing 
satisfactorily. I then sent Capt. Powers to Gen. Porter, 
reporting our true position ; requesting a more decided sup- 
port on the right, or else, on account of an enfilading fire 
from the enemy, it would be futile to commence the attack." 

This had been the opinion of the advanced Sharp- 
shooters as represented by Col. Berdan, when the latter 
called Col. Roberts' attention to the serious aspect of the 
position. The enemy having full sweep of the fields before 
them, our men unless properly backed up, would have been 
pretty much all slaughtered in a useless attack. This was 
-very obvious to them, as also to Col. Berdan. The men on 
the front line, could tell pretty near as well as those behind 
them. Their dearly purchased experience in the past, gave 
them a good idea of the prospect of success over an open 
plain enfiladed by a crowding enemy. As it was, when the 
order to advance was given, Roberts' brigade was badly 
cut up: "Our brave boys holding the ground but falling in 
scores," he says, also adds: "To Cols. Johnson (25th New 
York), Marshall (13th New York), also Col. Berdan, I feel 
much indebted for giving me from time to time the true posi- 
tion and movements of the enemy." 

The battle proved to be another hot one for the Sharp- 
shooters, who commenced skirmishing in the forenoon in 
advance, to the line of woods where they remained several 
hours — B and G in reserve, the balance of the regiment a 
long way out. At three o'clock these two companies 
received orders to deploy double-quick to the regimental 
line. Lieut. Nash (Company B) commanding the left divis- 
ion of the regiment, halting his men for a few moments in a 
patch of woods, warned them of the probable danger in 
front, in the following manner : 


"Now men! If there are any here who think thcv are 
goin; to have an easy time on this skirmish, change your 
tune now. For when you strike that open field, you'll find 
the shot pouring in thicker than the leaves over your heads. 
But mind you ! I don't ask a man to go ahead of me, but 
keep your line and push forward, and if any fall wounded 
we'll help 'em all we can. So away we go! Now for 'em, 

And Nash kept his word, he kept in front — he always 
did — and the "boys" were with him, they kept right up to 
their work. Then the whole line advanced from behind, the 
Sharpshooters going ahead as skirmishers over the open 
field under the heaviest kind of fire until they reached a 
shallow ditch 200 yards off, where they took cover for 
awhile, and poor cover at that, being about 300 yards from 
the enemy who were posted behind the railroad embank- 
ment, keeping up a constant fire at our riflemen, sending 
their balls down close to their heads. As an instance of the 
dangers incurred by our men in this position, I mention the 
case of Sergt. Charles H. Brown, of Company E, one of 
their best men, he having raised up to fire was immediately 
shot through the head. There was very little chance for a 
man to escape being hit at that place, even if he laid very 
low. Here our men remained until the charging troops 
came up, using their rifles with great rapidity, when they 
rushed forward with the line, engaging at close quarters, 
until finally ordered to fall back from their imperilled position, 
owing to an advance movement of rebels in force on their 
left flank, the Sharpshooters being at the time short of 
ammunition. As the latter retired behind the Union artillery 
the enemy were driven back by our batteries opening on 
them heavily. So close did the Confederates shoot while 
our men lay in the ditch, they had their knapsacks filled 
with bullet holes. The rolled blanket of James Ragin 


(Company G) was repeatedly bored with deadly messen- 

Gen. Hatch, now in command of King's division, having 
reported to Gen. Porter, was placed on the right of the 5th 
corps, going into the fight at that point, the Second Sharp- 
shooters being advanced as skirmishers in the woods. In 
all, this regiment lost 42 members on the Bull Run battle 
field, including a number captured.. Col. Stoughton after- 
wards speaking of their service said : " They were under fire 
every day from August 23d to the wind up at Chantilly, 
August 30th. No men ever bore themselves more gallantly 
than the Sharpshooters. It is hard at this moment to 
enumerate the deeds of special daring performed b} r these men, 
often called upon to go and find troublesome rebel sharp- 
shooters; and invariably with a good account, the ranks 
were fearfully decimated, and the rolls showed few men for 
muster on pay sheet, that were made up on the march 
to Antietam. At Groveton Company E was the first to 
encounter the rebels under Stonewall Jackson, and in each 
succeeding day of that terrible fight the Yermonters vied 
with the companies from Maine, New Hampshire, Minne- 
sota and Michigan, to see who should do the best work; 
and on the very front line on the left of where Lee broke our 
line, Companies E and H stood their ground with their can- 
nonade, until there was danger of being out-flanked and 
captured, and then only by the most strenuous effort did 
they get away." 

Col. Post commanding Second Sharpshooters, a valu- 
able regiment, much exposed, and which rendered most 
excellent service, is deserving of especial mention for his 
conduct, amongst others, in the battle of the 30th. — Gen. 

When the Second Regiment left Falmouth, they had 
between 600 and 700 in the ranks (August 10th); when 
the first roll was called near Alexandria, September 2d, 127 


answered to their names; and during Pope's campaign 
200,000 rounds of ammunition was used by this regiment 
of Sharpshooters. In fact they were all worn out wjiat 
were left of them, a good many were buried in Virginia, or 
sent to hospitals about Washington, while some went 
South to rebel prisons. Quite a number who had been 
absent returned to the ranks before they reached Antietam. 
Col. Peteler, hearing of the. Indian Outbreak in Minnesota, 
obtained a leave of absence at the close of this campaign, 
and while home was placed by Gen. Pope commanding the 
north-western department, in command of Fort Abercrom- 
bie and the military district between Sauk Centre and 
Pembina, which he retained until the following spring. 

The casualties in the First Sharpshooters were severe, 
with a total loss of 65 out of 290 present, according to the 
adjutant's report, but I cannot name them all. Col. Berdan 
was slightly wounded by a piece of shell. 


Co. A. — Five killed, and among the wounded, Capt. 
Isler who was obliged to leave the field. Corp. Adolph 
Seunhauser and Private Charles Bieler were among the 

Co. B. — Killed: First Sergt. Philander Austin, Corp. 
George Downing. Wounded: Thaddeus Hadden, Corp. 
John McCaffary, George M. Barber. 

Co. C— Killed: Peter G. Van Etter. Wounded: Capt. 
Jas. H.Baker, left wrist; First Sergt. Byon Brewer, left side; 
Norton Fitch, left arm amputated ; Thomas B. Gorton, 
Ossen E. Sturtevant and John Schoonover, who died Jan. 
16, 1863. 

Co. D. — W^ounded: Sergt. John E. Hetherington. 

Co. E. — Killed: Sergt. Charles H. Brown. Wounded: 
Capt. William P. Austin, severe; Samuel A. Clark, Henry E. 


Co. F.— Wounded: Harrison J. Peck, Ai Brown, W. H. 

Co. G.— Wounded: Corp. C.N. Jacobs, left arm, severe; 
Privates Thomas McCaul, thigh severe; Robert Casey, 
throat, severe; George H. Hartley, arm, severe (mortal); 
John D. Tyler, fingers, severe; A. G. Stannard, foot, severe; 
George Whitson, foot, slight; William H. Babcock, ankle, 
slight, George E. Albee, in hip. 

Co. K— Wounded : Sidney J. Race, mortally ; Richard 
W. Tyler, left leg; Albert Bills, severe; William A.Henderson 
and Dwight W. Thompson, slight. 

When Casey was hit he jumped to his feet, and swing- 
ing his rifle at the enemy in an excitable manner, made use of 
some rather harsh language for their benefit, until the blood 
in his throat and mouth prevented farther speech. Then, 
after firing off what cartridges he had left, standing up in 
full view utterly reckless and determined, the last shot being 
fired at a hog running along at the foot of the embankment, 
no rebels at that particular moment being seen, and which 
he laid out, this gritty soldier walked coolly off the field 
singing a peculiar tune of his own, completely heedless of 
bullet or shell flying thickly about him. He was discharged 
after much suffering and a struggle for life. 

It is said that Stannard, on receiving his wound, paid 
his opponent back with interest, by bringing him down 
from a tree top, after which he hobbled off to the rear. 

The next day, Gen. Porter accompanied by his staff, rid- 
ing up to Col. Berdan's headquarters, complimented him 
and his Sharpshooters for the manner in which they had 
been placed on the line the 30th, and for holding their 
positions so long before reinforcements came to them. 

During the night after the battle they fell back across 
Bull Run to Centreville, as per orders from Gen. Pope, "for 
rations and to await reinforcements." On the 1st of 
September the Sharpshooters arrived in the vicinity of 

* * % 


M&P* & 



^ I'/** 

f ; 



Washington, going into camp near Fort Corcoran. They 
had now got back to their starting point of five months 
previous, and in the hard service they had encountered in a 
constant campaign of active warfare, had materialized 
from raw troops to accomplished soldiers in every essential 
respect. The calamities of war were no longer new to them, 
but with an experience seldom attained in the past history 
of the country in years of service, they had certainly earned 
through their continuous duty at the front, in battle after 
battle, often day after day, the proud title of veterans. As 
an important arm of the 5th corps, they gloried in its tri- 
umphs, and had no occasion to feel that at any time had 
their corps suffered defeat up to this last battle. And there, 
though meeting with reverse with the entire army, their 
loss of 2,151 men— more than two-thirds of those engaged— 
sufficiently testified to their valor, their devotion to the 
Union cause. 


On this first day of September the divisions of Gen. 
Stevens, of the 9th corps, and Gen Kearny, of the 3d corps, 
had a fight with the enemy at Chantilly, between Centreville 
and Fairfax Court House, in which the two generals named 
were killed, to the sorrow of the Union ; Stevens at the head 
of his division, and Kearny while attempting to reconnoiter 
in front of his own. Both sides held their ground overnight, 
and both met with serious losses in some of their regiments. 
It has been claimed that the battlefield was held by Birney's 
division, who succeeded Kearny in command, they having 
by a gallant bayonet charge driven the enemy off. The 
Confederates, however, hardly concede this, as per the fol- 
lowing extracts from their reports of what they call the 
battle of Ox Hill. 

"By direction of Gen. Jackson I sent forward the bri- 
gades of Branch and Brockenbrough to feel and engage the 


enemy. The battle commenced under the most unfavorable 
circumstances — a heavy, blinding rain-storm directly in the 
faces of my men. These two brigades gallantly engaged 
the enemy, Branch being exposed to a very heavy fire in 
front and on his flank. Gregg, Pender, Thomas and Archer 
were successively thrown in. The enemy obstinately con- 
tested the ground, and it was not until the Federal generals, 
Kearny and Stevens had fallen in front of Thomas' brigade 
that the}' were driven from the ground. They did not, how- 
ever, retire far until later during the night, when they 
entirely disappeared." — A. P. Hill, Major-General Com- 
manding Light Division. 

"Our line of battle was formed, Gen. Hill's division on 
the right, E well's division in the center, and Jackson's 
division on the left. * * * A cold and drenching thunder 
shower swept over the field at this time, striking directly 
into the faces of our troops. * * * The conflict raged 
with great fury, the enemy obstinately and desperately con- 
testing the ground until their generals (Kearny and 
Stevens) fell, after which they retired from the field." — T.J. 
Jackson, Lieut. -Gen. 

The report of Gen. Birney, who commanded the division 
on Kearny's fall, gives a somewhat different look to the 
Union side of the combat; for instance: 

"The division reached Chantilly at about five o'clock p. 
M., under orders from Maj.-Gen. Heintzelman to support 
Gen. Reno, and found him actively engaged with the enemy. 
Under orders from Maj.-Gen. Kearny I reported mv brigade 
to Gen. Reno, and was ordered by him to the front. On 
reaching that point I found the division of Gen. Stevens 
retiring in some disorder before the enemy, the officers in 
command of regiments stating that their ammunition had 
been exhausted. I immediately ordered forward the 4th 
Maine regiment, and it gallantly advanced, and was soon 
in active conflict. I successively took forward the 101st 
New York, 3d Maine, 40th and 1st New York. These regi- 
ments held the enemy', and sustained unflinchingly the most 
murderous fire from a superior force. At this juncture Gen. 
Kearny reached the field with Randolph's battery^, and, 


placing it in position, aided my brigade by a well-directed 
fire. I pointed out to the general a gap on my right, 
caused by the retiring of Stevens' division, and asked for 
Berry's brigade to till it. He rode from me to examine the 
ground, and dashing past our lines into those of the enemy, 
fell a victim to his gallant daring. I sent forward the 38th 
New York and 57th Pennsylvania to complete our victory. 
The}' advanced gallantly and night closed in, leaving my 
brigade in full possession of that portion of the battle field 
in which we were engaged. — D. B. Birxey, Brig.-Gen. 

When the Army of the Potomac returned from the 
Peninsula and advanced through northern Virginia they 
became a part of Gen. Pope's forces, subject to his orders ; 
Gen. McClellan being placed in command of the territory 
comprising the defenses of Washington. So that when the 
troops fell back from Manassas and crossed the Bull Run 
line, they found themselves again under their old commander; 
and if there was any spirit prevalent among the men of 
disorder or demoralization over this retrograde movement, 
it was quickly dispelled by the wide-spread rumor that Gen. 
McClellan was at their head again. As a result, they forgot 
their fatigue and weakened powers, the}' were strong again 
— anxious to wipe out the past in victory for the Union, and 
a good thrashing for its enemies. 

In course of time, however, they got used to these 
changes of commanders, submitting to the same with 
patriotic grace, and with the hope that the general in com- 
mand, whoever he might be, would lead them on to ever- 
lasting victory. Nor should they be blamed for their con- 
fidence in their commanders, which in most cases at least, 
commencing with McClellan, they could be credited with. 
And was it not a good trait? For surely when an army — 
the men that do the fighting — lose confidence in their officers 
and particularly the higher grades, they natural lv become 
demoralized and unfit for duty. 

On the 7th of September Company K was reinforced bv 
20 recruits from Michigan under Corp. C. W. Thorp. 




On the 12th of September the First Sharpshooters, 
under command of Capt. John B. Isler (all field officers 
absent), left camp with their corps, marching through 
Washington on to the Frederick pike into Maryland, cross- 
ing South Mountain, and by forced marches on the 16th 
came up with and joined the main body of the army, which 
had moved several days before them, fought the battle of 
South Mountain, and w T as now in position on Antietam 
creek. The weather at this period was very hot, many 
cases of sunstroke occurring among the troops, resulting 
fatallv in a number of instances. I always found it to be 
a good plan to drink as little water as possible during these 
hot marches, and believe that wet leaves in the hat served 
as a preventative of serious effects of the burning sun. 
Many were careless, however, swilling down water to an 
alarming extent. While on this march a number of recruits 
joined the regiment, particularly from Wisconsin for Com- 
pany G, also 50 Vermonters for Company F. 


Sept. 14, 1862. 

This battle consisted principally in assaulting the enemy 
holding two important passes or gaps in the South Moun- 
tain range, and occupied the greater part of the day until 


night-fall, when the Confederates were forced from their 
strong positions, retreating down the mountain during the 
night. Thus had their bold advance towards Philadelphia 
or Baltimore been stopped. 

Gen. McClellan's report speaks of these passes: "The 
South Mountain Range near Turner's Pass averages per- 
haps 1,000 feet in height, and forms a strong natural mil- 
itary barrier. The practical passes are not numerous and 
are readily defensible, the gaps abounding in fine positions. 
Turner's Pass is the more prominent, being that by which 
the National road crosses the mountains. It was necessarily 
indicated as the route of advance of our main army. 

"The carrying of Crampton's Pass, some five or six 
miles below, was also important to furnish the means of 
reaching the flank of the enemy, and having, as a lateral 
movement, direct relations to the attack on the principal 
pass, while it at the same time presented the most direct 
practicable route for the relief of Harper's Ferry." 

The fighting at Turner's Pass was participated in by 
troops of the corps of Reno and Hooker, under the immedi- 
ate command of Burnside, and began at eight in the morn- 
ing, after Pleasanton's cavalry had reconnoitered the enemy's 
position on the crest of hills commanding the National 
road. The divisions of Gen. Reno opened the battle proper, 
on the left of the road, driving the rebels from the crest in 
their front, an important point gained. 

The contest here was maintained with perseverance 
until dark, the enemy having the advantage as to position 
and fighting with obstinacy, but the ground won was fully 
maintained. The loss in killed and wounded was consider- 
able on both sides, and it was here that Maj.-Gen. Reno, 
who had gone forward to observe the operations of his 
corps and to give such directions as were necessary, fell, 
pierced with a musket ball. A gallant soldier, an able gen- 
eral, endeared to his troops and associates, his death is felt 
as an irreparable misfortune. — AIcClellax. 


Later on, Hooker's corps came up, when the Pennsyl- 
vania Reserves under Meade attacked the enemy on the right 
of the gap with great success. Hatch's division was sent 
for to operate on one of the intrenched hills. "The move- 
ment, after a sharp contest on the crest and in the fields in 
the depression between the crest and the adjoining hill, was 
fully successful." Ricketts' division late in the day, took 
part in the closing scene, and relieving Hatch's men remained 
on the battle field over night. "The mountain sides thus 
gallantly pressed over by Hooker on the right of the gap 
and Reno on the left, were steep and difficult in the extreme. 
We could make but little use of our artillery, while our 
troops were subject to a warm artillery fire as well as to 
that of infantry in the woods and under cover." 

By order of Gen. Burnside, Gibbon's brigade of Hatch's 
division, late in the afternoon, advanced upon the center of 
the enemy's position on the main road. Deploying his 
brigade, Gibbon actively engaged a superior force of the 
enemy, which, though stubbornly resisting, was steadily 
pressed back until some hours after dark, when Gibbon 
remained in undisturbed possession of the field. — Gen. 

The Second Sharpshooters, now under Col. Walter 
Phelps, Jr., commanding the brigade, took an important 
part in this battle, having been detached from the brigade 
for special service by Gen. Hooker, and ordered to the right 
of the line, where they carried the ground to the summit, 
charging over South Mountain, routing the enemy, captur- 
ing two mountain howitzers and a number of prisoners. 
Lieut. Humphrey, of Company E, says: "Back of the 
brush fence we counted 27 dead rebels from the 37th North 
Carolina regiment. On September 15th and 16th we were 
picking up the stragglers." Col. Stoughton refers to the 
short rest on Upton's Hill, when "the regiment was again 
put on the move, and reached South Mountain in time to be 


engaged freely with the rebels, and in which the companies 
were complimented for the daring and bravery " (displayed 
by the entire regiment) "in dislodging the enemy and occu- 
pying the ground, from which the Confederates were driven 
by the Sharpshooters." Their work was a noble one, and 
praises for the brave are not out of order. 


Sept. 10 17, 186 

This great battle resulted in a Union victory. On 
leaving South Mountain in pursuit of the retreating Con- 
federates, Gen. McClellan ordered the troops to attack them 
if overtaken on the march, but if found in heavy force and in 
position, our advance should form for attack, awaiting the 
general's arrival. The latter event happened, and when 
Gen. McClellan reached the field on the 15th, he found Rich- 
ardson's division of the 2d corps and Sykes' of the 5th, the 
only ones confronting the enemy, who were strongly 
intrenched on the heights beyond the Antietam — to the 

"Their position stretched across the angle formed by 
the Potomac and Antietam, their flanks and rear protected 
bv these streams, was one of the strongest to be found in 
this region of country, which is well adapted to defensive 
warfare. ' ' — Mc Clellan. 

This stream was spanned by four stone bridges several 
miles apart, a distance altogether of six and one-half miles, 
but our line of battle was hardly four miles long. Our 
other troops coming up from time to time as hurriedly as 
they could, were placed in their respective positions for the 
attack, during the evening up to a late hour at night. The 


battle commenced on the morningof the 16th with artillery 
on both sides, continuing during the day ; and in the after- 
noon on the right, crossing the Antietam by the upper 
bridge, by the Pennsylvania Reserves of Gen. Hooker's 
corps, which lasted until dark, driving the enemy before 
them, occupying their ground. At daylight the next morn- 
ing fighting was resumed, which soon became severe and 
determined on both sides in a general engagement. All day 
long it was kept up from right to left. On the right, 
Hooker's troops started in with considerable success, but 
the enemy rallying, massed their forces, and hurling them on 
this corps (1st) stopped their advance. Mansfield's corps 
(12th) was then thrown forward to support Hooker, 
between them they drove the enemy back. In the struggle 
Gen. Mansfield was killed, and Gen. Hooker wounded. Fi- 
nally, Sumner's corps (2d) go up and force the fighting, the 
divisions of Sedgwick and Crawford after suffering greatly, 
falling back with both their generals wounded. French 
and Richardson's divisions, however, held their ground 
although much exposed, their losses including Gen. Richard- 
son, mortally wounded. At all times the enemy's artillery 
played havoc with our troops, while our own big guns 
helped to swell the carnage on the other side. Smith's 
division of Franklin's corps (6th) coming up at the oppor- 
tune moment swept over the lost ground, holding it there- 
after. But, "the condition of things on the right, towards 
the middle of the afternoon," Gen. M^Clellan says, "not- 
withstanding the success wrested from the enemy by the 
stubborn bravery of the troops, was at this time unprom- 
ising. Sumner's, Hooker's and Mansfield's corps had lost 

Gen. Porter's corps (5th) occupied the center, and did 
good service holding the front line near the second or "turn- 
pike" bridge, assuring the safety of the artillery and supply 
trains. Sykes' regulars were at times sharply engaged, 


while Morell's division performed important service reliev- 
ing and reinforcing other troops. The 5th corps batteries 
were also engaged with good effect, particularly Van Reed's 
in assisting Gen.Pleasanton's cavalry west of theAntietam, 
which battery, after firing some 400 rounds, withdrew 
about dark. Randol's battery went over and drove one of 
the enemy's batteries out of range, but was afterwards 
ordered by Gen. Pleasanton to return across the bridge, 
owing to the destructive fire onto his position by the 
enemy's concealed sharpshooters, endangering his horses 
and annoying his gunners. 

In the afternoon Burnside, who was on the left, after a 
hard contest crossed the third bridge at one o'clock, but 
much later than McClellan desired, who in his report says: 
"The attack on the right was to have been supported by an 
attack on the left " — that is, in the morning, and at least by 
eight o'clock. That was the intention of the commander of 
the Union forces. On crossing, Burnside's men after consid- 
erable delay succeeded in driving the well-posted enemy 
away, capturing and holding an important part of his line 
up to the edge of Sharpsburg, including a range of heights 
with some batteries. Unfortunately for McClellan 's hopes, 
however, it was too late to do any good, but just in time to 
meet fresh troops from Harper's Ferry — A. P. Hill's division 
— whom Lee was anxiously awaiting; and who attacking 
Burnside's left, finally caused him to fall back after dark to 
the heights first taken above the bridge, where his command 
remained until the following night, when they were relieved 
by Morell's division of Porter's corps. Burnside's troops 
lost heavily, though they made a gallant fight with the 
advantages of position against them — concealed rifle pits, 
strong barricades and enfilading batteries. Their delay, 
however, first in effecting a crossing, and afterwards failing 
to move right ahead, unavoidable or not, was fatal to the 


success of McClellan's plans, rendering our victory in a great 
sense a barren one. 

"The bridge was carried at one o'clock by a brilliant 
charge of the 51st New York and 51st Pennsylvania volun- 
teers. Other troops were then thrown over and the 
opposite bank occupied, the enemy retreating to the 
heights beyond. A halt was then made by Gen. Burnside's 
advance until three p. m., upon hearing which I directed one 
of my aides, Col. Key, to inform Gen. Burnside that I de- 
sired him to push forward his troops with the utmost vigor, 
and carry the enemy's position on the heights. * * * If 
this important movement had been consummated two hours 
earlier, a position would have been secured upon the heights 
from which our batteries might have enfiladed the greater 
part of the enemy's line, and turned their right and rear. 
Night closed the long and desperately contested 
battle of the 17th. Nearly 200,000 men and 500 pieces of 
artillery were for 14 hours engaged in this memorable 
battle. "— McClellan. 

The official report of the loss of the 9th corps (Burn- 
side's) during this engagement, shows a total of 2,293: 
Killed 432, wounded 1,741, missing 120. Surely enough 
to prove that the soldiers themselves were not to blame for 
any failure that may have occurred. 

McClellan's purpose was to renew the attack on the 
18th, but was prevented from so doing owing to the 
weakened condition of many divisions, which had already 
suffered severely in the general loss of "12,410," of which 
less than 800 were among the "captured or missing." It 
became absolutely necessary to collect the scattered troops 
and re-form them, to replenish their cartridge boxes and 
caissons which were about exhausted, to give them a little 
rest and a chance to munch a few hard-tack, with whatever else 
might come to them eatable, for they were tired and hungry 
after their hard fighting and previous forced marches day 
and night. Both Gens. Sumner and Meade notified McClel- 
lan that they did not think their corps "in proper condition" 


to attack the enemy vigorously on the 18th." This same 
condition also existed among some of the troops on the 
left, particularly with the new levies. 

The fighting at Antietam was particularly severe ; 
many brilliant charges were made by our troops, with a 
prestige of success that encouraged the hope that on its 
renewal a decisive result would be attained. But during 
the night of the 18th the enemy stole silently away, retreat- 
ing across the Upper Potomac where his left wing extended, 
not venturing to hazard another day's encounter. The 
rebel general, Lee, had the choice of ground and wisely 
made his stand on the formidable heights from which he 
could slip away if too hard pushed, and did so completely, 
getting well into Virginia before he stopped. And this was 
the result of his threatened capture of northern cities, c>{ 
his invasion of loyal territory. He made a big rush, but 
when McClellan faced him his rush was over — he rushed 
the other way, thanks to the hills and natural defenses that 
shielded him. 

The victories at South Mountain and Antietam were 
glorious ones for the Union cause, as the}' forced the defiant 
rebel army out of Maryland, and frustrated their bold designs 
on Baltimore and Washington. Besides it required more 
than ordinar\- efforts on the part of the Union soldiers to 
dislodge the Confederates, from the hills and mountains. 
It was truly uphill work for the Blue Coats, and in its accom- 
plishment they well deserved the thanks of the northern 
people, particularly those of the Atlantic cities. The soldiers 
that fought the battles of the Maryland campaign could 
well be proud of the honor. After the battle of South 
Mountain, President Lincoln in a dispatch to Gen. McClellan, 

"God bless you, and all with you." 

While, after Antietam, Gen. McClellan reproached Gen. 
Halleck the general-in-chief, with : 


"A spirit of fault-finding, and that you have not yet 
found leisure to say one word in commendation of the recent 
achievements of this army, or even to allude to them." 

At Antietam the First Regiment of Sharpshooters were 
held in reserve with other troops of their corps, being at 
times under heavy artillery fire, holding a perilous position 
during the entire engagement in protecting the center and 
supporting the batteries. 

The Second Sharpshooters were in it hot and heavy, 
with a loss of 66 killed and wounded of their always 
valuable men; among them the accomplished Adjt. Lewis C. 
Parmelee, Lieut. John J. Whitman and Lieut. John W. 
Thompson, killed; Col. Post and Capt. Dudley P. Chase, 
wounded. They were in Phelps' brigade of Doubleday's 
division of the 1st corps under Hooker, rendering important 
and trying service in advance, where they captured one 
stand of rebel colors. Lieut. Humphrey: "Sept. 17th, we 
entered the historic cornfield at Antietam and helped to fill 
the bloody lane, at the expense to our company (E) of one 
killed and 10 wounded. Our captain and four men were 
left for duty." Lieut. Curtis Abbott, of Company H, tells 
how "on the 16th they led the advance of Hooker's division 
on Lee's left, had a slight skirmish at the close of that day, 
and were in the thickest of the fight in the cornfields at 
about sunrise the following morning. Loss (in H) five men 
wounded, one mortally. There was heavy loss throughout 
the regiment. Their ranks thinned by previous hard marches, 
their loss at this battle was fully 25 per cent, of those 
present for duty." Col. Stoughton adds his testimony to 
the important service rendered by the Second Regiment here: 
"While lying on their faces on the open ground they did 
more damage to the enemy than any brigade in our front 
or to our right, we firing obliquely. Into the field opposite 
and in front of Campbell's battery, were put in one grave 192 
of the enemy. Col. D. VVyatt Aiken, of the 7th South Car- 


olina, was on that field and told Stoughton afterwards that 
it was as hot as any place he was ever in. The following 
Confederate authority provesit: 

. The Seventh, led by Col. Aiken, trailed their progress to 
the cannon's mouth with the blood of their bravest, and 
when borne back by resistless force, rallied the remnant left 
under command of Capt. John S. Hard, the senior surviving 
officer. Col. Aiken was most dangerously wounded, and 
every officer and man in the color company either killed or 
wounded, and their total loss 140 out of 268 men carried 
in. The colors of this regiment, shot from the staff, formed 
the winding sheet of the last man of the color company at 
the extreme point reached by our troops that day.— J. B. 
Kershaw, Brig. -Gen. Comdg. 

Adjt. Parmelee was shot while trying to carry off a rebel 
flag he had seized, fastened to a fence post ; but unfortu- 
nately for him and others, the rebels were behind the fence, 
and the gallant adjutant had five bullets put in him. Lieutr 
"Jack" Whitman, as he was familiarly called, fell while 
leading on and cheering his men, being at the time in com- 
mand of Company B. One of the rebel flags was captured 
by a Company A man, who was complimented by Gen. 
McClellan riding by as the Sharpshooters were coming out 
of the fight. He ran and grabbed it from the hands of the 
reb who was holding it on the fence. Silas W. Howard, of 
Company E, received several gunshot wounds, one through 
his chest, and notwithstanding he did not expect to survive, 
and took out the fire block of his Sharps rifle, throwing it 
far away so no rebel could find it to make use of the rifle 
against us, -with all his wounds he survived and was living 
at his old home at Royalton, in Vermont, in 1892, or 30 
years after the battle. 


Two very singular things occurred after the battle in 
connection with Adjt. Parmelee, says Col. (then Captain) 


Stoughton. The first: As Surgeon Reynolds and myself 
were riding along the Sharpsburg pike, arriving at the very 
place where the adjutant fell, we met a carriage containing 
a lady. She spoke to us and wanted to be directed to the 
Second U. S. Sharpshooters, and recognizing our green uni- 
forms, said: "Perhaps you belong to that regiment," to 
which we replied affirmatively. The lady again: "Do you 
know where Adjutant Parmelee fell ? " We answered: "Yes, 
ma'am, right there, and the blood stains mark the spot." 
She continued: "Well, I came from New York on behalf of 
the lady to whom he was engaged, and who was at my 
house when the sad intelligence of his death was received." 

A few days later, Chaplain Barber and Capt. Stough- 
ton had nearly reached the same spot when they met a car- 
riage containing four gentlemen, one of whom made similar 
inquiries as the lady, and proved to be the adjutant's father, 
who was informed: "Right there is the spot and there he 
was buried;" he then said he had come to take the body 

Adjt. Parmelee was a great favorite in the regiment, a 
young man of excellent address and education, having 
passed through a course of studies at Edinburg, and had 
belonged to New York city's crack regiment, the Seventh — 
or National Guard. He could quote all the great poets and 
prominent authors. An amusing stoiw is told at his 
expense, in a little trick pla3^ed on him at Camp of Instruc- 
tion. It appears that the adjutant had been expecting 
from his friends East a splendid horse, and had said a good 
deal about it to his fel low-officers. So, one day, Capt. 

came across an old bone-yard subject, and had him 

brought to camp and hid. He then requested Capt. Peteler 
to engage Parmelee in a game of cards that evening, which 
the Minnesota captain did, not knowing what was 
intended, although he looked for a joke. At taps or a little 
after, some one came around to Peteler's tent, crvingout: 



"Lights out! lights out!" and disappeared. So, the captain 
taking the hint adjourned the game, and walked out with 
Pannelee towards his quarters, who, as he approached his 
tent, quoting one of his favorite verses, that eastern horse 
still being in his mind: "A horse! a horse! My kingdom for 
a" — at this point he had just dodged under the tent flap 
right onto the skinny bones therein. Then there was a 
scene, but I draw the curtain to say that the "shocked" 
adjutant, next clay finding the horse had died, got even with 
his unknown trickster, by ordering a detail from every com- 
pany in the regiment to assist in burying the old played-out 

"Having ascertained that the enemy's line was formed 
with their lelt advanced, making a crotchet, and that thev 
were in position to partially enfilade our lines, I ordered the 
Second U. S. Sharpshooters, Col. Post, to move to the right 
and front, advancing his left, and to engage the enemy at that 
point. * * * The effect of the engagement between the 
Sharpshooters and the enemy was to draw a very heavy fire 
from their advanced line, and I ordered the brigade forward 
to the support of the line in front. The musketry fire at this 
point was very heavy — the loss of the 2d U. S. Sharp- 
shooters was severe." — Walter Phelps, Jr. 

There were two companies of Andrew Sharpshooters of 
Massachusetts, named after their governor, raised for Col. 
Berdan's Second Regiment, who were sent out as independ- 
ent companies. Berdan offered them Sharps rifles to 
march and skirmish with, but they preferred to carry the 
heavy telescopes. One of these companies was in Morell's 
division of the 5th corps, and one in Gorman's brigade of 
the 2d corps. This latter company was badly cut up at 
Antietam, in a close engagement where rapid loading and 
quick shooting with them was out of the question, their 
guns being little better in that affair than clubs, they losing 
26 with their captain and a lieutenant among the killed. 



Gen. Gorman, speaking of their service, said : "Captain 
Sannder's company of Sharpshooters, attached to the 15th 
Massachusetts volunteers, together with the left wing of 
that regiment, silenced one of the enemy's batteries and 
kept it so, driving the cannoneers from it every time they 
attempted to load, and for ten minutes fought the enemy in 
large numbers at a range of 15 to 20 yards, each party shel- 
tering themselves behind fences, large rocks, and straw- 

The Second Minnesota Sharpshooters (Company L) 
were also engaged here in the same brigade, going into 
action with 42 men and losing 24, as I am informed, "within 
a space of time not exceeding 10 minutes." 

Gen. McClellan reports: "2,700 of the enemy's dead 
were counted and buried on the field, while a portion had 
been previously buried by the enemy, which was conclusive 
evidence that the enemy sustained much greater loss than 
we. Thirteen guns, 39 colors, upwards of 15,000 stand of 
small arms, and more than 6,000 prisoners were the trophies 
which attest the success of our arms in the battles of South 
Mountain, Crampton's Gap, and Antietam. Not a single 
gun or color was lost by our army during those battles." 
He also computed the Confederate force at 97,445 against a 
total of 87,164 Union troops in action. The "estimate of 
the forces under the Confederate Gen. Lee, was made up by 
direction of Gen. Banks, from information obtained by the 
examination of prisoners, deserters, spies, etc." 


Sept. 19, 20, 1862. 

On the 19th the Sharpshooters were ordered to the 
front in advance of MorelFs division, and marching through 
Sharpsburg met the enemy again at this crossing of the 
Potomac, having been sent ahead to reconnoiter. Proceed- 

IN T11K AKMV OF Till-: POTOMAC. 207 

ing three-fourths of a mile deployed in line, they skirmished 
in the afternoon with their rear guard, when a brisk little 
action ensued, the 4th Michigan following as a support. On 
reaching the river bank the enemy who had crossed to the 
Virginia side, opened heavily at first, but were soon com- 
pletely silenced bv our men who had taken possession of an 
old canal bed then dry, assisted by our batteries from the 
beginning, the Confederates being unable to load their can- 
non or to remove them. At half past five p. M. Capt. Isler com- 
manding, received an order from Gen. Porter for the First 
Sharpshooters to cross the stream and drive the enemy from 
the bluff—" to repulse them at any hazard." Only a part of 
the command heard the order, and these promptly respond- 
ing, ran forward into the water waist deep under a hot fire 
from their opponents, to our loss in killed and wounded, 
forded the river with their guns and cartridge boxes held 
above them, and climbing the embankment put the foe to 
flight, capturing a rebel battery of four guns; afterwards 
run down the bluff on to the beach by the 4th Michigan fol- 
lowing, which were eventually removed to the Union lines 
on the Maryland side by a portion of the 5th New York. 
So that three regiments got the credit of capturing these 
guns: First, Berdan Sharpshooters; second, 4th Michigan; 
third, 5th New York. 

After the Sharpshooters had captured the cannon— the 
first and real capture — two of which were discovered by a 
small force under Corp. Cassius Peck, of Company F, and 
taken, after driving the enemy off, with one prisoner; our 
men followed the retreating foe 300 yards, fighting every 
step. While advancing, Company I came in contact with a 
line of skirmishers, when a fight occurred at short range, the 
rebels retreating as the Sharpshooters rushed at them, 
leaving behind numerous articles of value, among them a 
case of surgical instruments. Being reinforced, the enemy 
recharged and succeeded in getting back everything but the 


doctor's case taken by Sergt. Eli Cook, who, however, lost 
it during the darkness, having placed it under a bush for 
safe keeping. During the night the Sharpshooters were 
ordered to recross the river, although they held the shore 
from which the enemy had been driven. Before returning, a 
horse was heard coming at full speed. It was very dark, 
and the rider a rebel staff-officer, rode right up to our lines, 
looking for the brigade left to guard the ford, Lawton's 
brigade of Jackson's corps, for whom he had verbal orders, 
thus proving the number of men that had been opposed to 
our small force. This officer was captured by Corp. Sankey 
(Company B) in Sergt. Cook's picket, and sent to Gen. 
Porter by Capt. Isler. 

On the 20th at an early hour, a portion of the 5th corps 
under Gen. Sykes, with Barnes' brigade of Morell's division, 
crossed over and advanced more or less as far as a mile from 
the river, expecting to be reinforced by more troops and to 
advance towards Shepherdstown. Being suddenly attacked 
by a superior force, some 3,000 strong, rising in front from 
the heavy woods, and the "bushes and cornfields" which 
had hidden them from view, Gen. Porter at the suggestion 
of Gen. Sykes, ordered the entire command to fall back 
across the ford, which was gradually accomplished. A new 
regiment known as the "Corn Exchange" of Philadelphia 
(118th Pennsylvania), remaining too long found themselves 
flanked, and being furiously assaulted on all sides met with 
severe loss, while hurriedly driven back to the bluff. Our 
troops on the Maryland side heard the firing, when orders 
came for the Sharpshooters to fall in, who moving double- 
quick, were posted in the canal where they had good shelter 
and a fine place to aim — cruel work, but it was war, and 
our troops must be protected. Here, the concealed riflemen 
had a chance to cover the retreat, which was handsomely 
done, the enemy as they approached the opposite bank 
being quickly driven away by the shower of bullets whizzing 


among them. The rebels were making fatal work among 
the Pennsylvanians, shooting them down fast, until our 
boys came to their rescue and saved them. Taking cover 
under the bank mid the rocks and caves, many of them 
refused for a time to attempt the crossing, fearing to expose 
themselves while so doing. Our men called to them, trying 
to encourage them, but without avail. Finally, Calvin 
Morse, chief bugler of Company F, crossed the stream, pro- 
tected by the fire of his comrades, to show that it could be 
safely done. Persuasion and coaxing seemed useless, and 
many of them were captured. But the Pennsylvanians were 
not to blame for being driven orfor their subsequent actions. 
They had fought hard at the front before falling back, with 
an inferior gun, "50 per cent, of which could not be dis- 
charged," and when men cannot shoot back, they hardly 
care to be shot at. 

"Their arms (spurious Enfield rifles) were so defective 
that little injury could be inflicted by them upon the enemy. 
Many of this regiment, new in service, volunteered the 
previous evening, and formed part of the attacking party 
which gallantly crossed the river to secure the enemy's artil- 
lery. They have earned a good name which the losses of 
the day did not diminish. (These defective arms had been 
reported to the General-in-Chief, but all efforts to replace 
them had failed.)" — Fitz John Porter. 

The Sharpshooter companies as usual did good service. 
The fighting was often severe both with musketry and art' - 
lery, our batteries working hard. Our men felt in the best 
of spirits at the successful issue of the engagement, the 
enemy hurrying away during the night. Recruits first under 
fire were awarded great praise for so gallantly vieing with 
the old members during the battle. An instance is given to 
show their true spirit: Lieut. Nash, of Company B, having 
called for volunteers to cross the river and bring in the 
wounded, Company B went entire, with some of other com- 
panies; among them, Albert S. Isham, of G, jumped up, 


quickly followed by William Heath, a recruit, who, plunging 
into the water up to their armpits despite the heavy firing, 
succeeded in crossing over, and recovering one of the 
wounded returned with him in safety, although the unfort- 
unate soldier died shortly after. Rushing waters had no 
terrors for such brave soldiers. 

Capt. Marble wrote me: "Your recruits, first under fire 
near Sharpsburg, are doing splendidly." Col. Berdan also 
wrote: "Stevens, send as raativ more of the same sort as 
you can get." These recruits sandwiched in among the old 
members, soon became proficient soldiers. 

Relative to the affair of the 19th, Gen. Porter reports: 
"The result of the day's action was the capture of five 
pieces, two caissons, two caisson bodies, two forges, and 
some 4-00 stand of arms ; also one battle-flag. Our loss was 
small in numbers, but some excellent officers and men were 
killed and wounded." 

The casualties among the Sharpshooters included, 
among others unknown to me, the following valuable 

Co. A — Killed: Henry Logas. 

Co. B — Wounded: Joseph L. Stokes, George Griswold. 

Co. I— Killed: First Sergt. Marvin P. Raymond. 
Wounded: Arthur Hamlin, shot through both thighs, 

Co. K — Wounded: Joel Race, slight in foot by piece of 

In Company G, Willard M. Isham was struck with a piece 
of shell on both legs and benumbed, which kept him off duty 
for some weeks; another instance of the effect produced by 
a glance shot, or even spent ball, the force of the blow 
often being more severely felt than if it entered the flesh. 
Marvin and Hamlin were shot in the river on the 19th. 

The rebel general A. P. Hill, in his report of Shepherds- 
town or Boteler's Ford, the Blackford Ford battle, told 


what a daring charge he had made, how he drove us pell- 
mell into the river, followed by the "greatest slaughter of 
blue coats of the war;" the broad surface of the Potomac 
being blue with floating bodies, etc. He must have been 
looking through a very large magnifying glass at a respect- 
ful distance from the river, as his stoiw was certainly a very 
great stretch of imagination; and yet it was founded on a 
pretty good supposition when the illy armed "Corn 
Exchange" were driven back. 

No further attempt being made to cross into Virginia, 
the troops went into camp in Maryland, that of the Sharp- 
shooters located in a beautiful oak forest near the Potomac. 
On the 3d of October our corps was visited by President 
Lincoln, which event, while it afforded them much pleasure, 
would have been more gratifying had they not been roasted 
for three hours by the hot sun. The Sharpshooters in com- 
mon with the other old regiments of this army, were by the 
vicissitudes of war reduced to less than half their original 
number, and with their weather-tanned faces, "brown as 
a berry," their tattered banners and faded clothes, their vis- 
ages depicting sadness and want, presented a most gloomy 
aspect, while their depleted ranks bespoke their hardships 
and suffering. All of which brought forth the fullest sympa- 
thies of the President. While at this camp the soldiers were 
poorly supplied with clothing and rations, the latter caus- 
ing much complaint, especially the wormy crackers. Paper 
soled shoes, shoddy clothing, and wormy tack, had the 
effect to implicitly fix in their minds a fervent wish to catch 
the army contractor and prod him to the front, where bul- 
lets and shell could play around his greedy soul. For a man 
who would purposely rob the defenders of his country — the 
struggling soldiers — certainly deserved to have a taste of 
battle's danger. 

The paper soled shoes the soldiers used to draw from 
the quartermaster, ily sold by some of the arnn- contract- 


ors — soulless sharks — were a "thing of beauty" but not a 
"joy forever." But they were really not so common among 
our men as may be supposed, for very few requisitions were 
filled that way with the Sharpshooter quartermasters, who 
with an eye to the needs and comfort of the command, 
wouldn't have them — if they could help it. As for the regular 
army shoe, it was undoubtedly the best that could be made 
for ease and comfort, also for marching. With a good tap 
added to the soles by the "company cobbler," they would 
last long and wear well. Besides, with shoes, you could 
plunge through water and keep right on thereafter, as the 
water would soon work out and the feet soon dry. 
Whereas, with boots, it was different, and many a comrade 
was behind in the column, trying to get his boots on, after 
emptying the water out ; so that it was often the practice 
to cut holes in front, whereby the water could squirt out 
until all was dry again. Occasionally, trouble would occur 
among the "play-offs," who would manage, often by swap- 
ping, to get a sized shoe too large or small, and then great 
was the complaint of these "sorry soldiers" because they 
couldn't get a fit, and so have to be excused from picket or 
other duty. They were generally, however, brought around 
to an "eternal fitness of things," by the company officer, 
for his extra time wasted to procure the pro per size. So that 
it didn't always happen that these little tricks prevailed. 

Humphreys' division, now the 3d of the 5th corps, some 
6,000 in all, made a reconnoisance into Virginia, going to 
Leetown on October 16th, and locating the enemy's posi- 
tion in that vicinity, returned the following day. Previous 
to this, the division of Gen. Cox, 5,000 men, left 
us, being ordered into Western Virginia. On the 10th, 
the rebel Stuart made his celebrated cavalry raid 
into Maryland, taking our own cavalry forces from 
us, in pursuit, and also some of the infantry organiza- 


tions. This hel])cd to delay the crossing of the Army of the 
Potomac into Virginia, and another cause was the length 
of time taken to obtain necessary clothing for the troops, 
particularly shoes and blankets, as the men could hardly 
march barefooted. As it was, some of the corps did not 
receive these necessary' supplies until after they had started 
south. So it was not until Oct. 30th that the troops 
remaining near Sharpsburg broke up their camps and 
resumed the march, moving off during the night on the road 
along the Potomac in an easterly direction, crossing the 
Potomac on the following day near Harper's Ferry by 
pontoon bridge, and camping three miles south near Hills- 
borough. On the 2d of November left camp and marching 
all day reached Snicker's Gap of the Blue Ridge range of 
mountains in the evening. During the night the Sharp- 
shooters were ordered out to climb the mountain as a scout- 
ing party to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy, and 
to place posts of observation thereon, from whence an exten- 
sive view of the country surrounding could be obtained. 
Notwithstanding the danger of ascent from slipping and 
rolling to the bottom, owing to the prevailing darkness 
whereby little could be seen about them, they finally suc- 
ceeded in getting to the summit, and were stationed there 
for the night. The next day being relieved of this arduous 
duty they left their elevated position, and on descending 
went again to their camp near Snickersville. Nov. 5th, 
left this place, marching southeasterly, passing through 
Middleburg, White Plains and other points, arriving on 
the 9th at Warrenton where they remained over a week. 
While at White Plains on the 6th, they were treated to a 
snowstorm an inch deep, which was very unpleasant to the 
troops and was the cause of more or less suffering. 

Gen. Burnside was now placed in command of the Army 
of the Potomac, vice McClellan relieved. And Gen. Hooker 


was shortly thereafter ordered to command the 5th corps, 
vice Porter relieved. On retiring from the field, Gen. Mc- 
Clellan issued the following farewell to the army of his 
creation : 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 
Camp near Rectortown, Va., November 7, 1862. 
Officers axd Soldiers of the Army of the Potomac : 

An order of the President devolves upon Major-General 
Burnside the command of this army. In parting from you, 
I cannot express the love and gratitude I bear to you. As 
an army, you have grown up under my care. In you I have 
never found doubt or coldness. The battles you have 
fought under my command will proudly live in our nation's 
history. The glory you have achieved, our mutual perils 
and fatigues, the graves of our comrades fallen in battle 
and by disease, the broken forms of those whom wounds 
and sickness have disabled— the strongest associations 
which can exist among men — unite us still by an indis- 
soluble tie. We shall ever be comrades in supporting the 
Constitution of our country and the nationality of its 

Geo. B. McClellax, 

Major-General, U. S. Arm}'. 

The recruits joining the two regiments, at different 
points during the past fall, aided materially in filling the 
vacant ranks caused by death losses, and the discharge of 
members on account of disability. October 1st, Company 
E, Second Regiment, had but 13 men for duty, but on the 
17th they were reinforced by the arrival of 30 recruits, who 
with a number of the slightly wounded or sick, returning to 
duty, they became a company again. Company H, same 
regiment, received 13 recruits, with some of their lately 
sick and wounded. The recruits were steadily drilled, espe- 
cially as skirmishers. Col. Post came to the Second Regi- 
ment the 9th of November, but finding it much reduced in 
numbers went to Washington to see if he could not get it 


recruited up and new companies added. He did not 
return, but resigned Nov. 18th. Changes occurred in the 
field among the officers and non-commissioned officers of 
both regiments, caused by promotion or discharge ; among 
them Sergt. James S. Webster (G) was acting sergeant- 
major of the First Regiment. 





Leaving Warrenton the middle of November, the Sharp- 
shooters reached Falmouth the 23d, encamping two miles 
from town, where they remained until December 11th, 
when they received "60 rounds of ammunition and 
marching orders." The march from Warrenton to Fal- 
mouth was attended with many difficulties to the great 
annoyance and discomfort of the troops. Capt. Aschmann 
says of it: "It took us seven days to reach Falmouth, a 
distance of 45 miles, which slow advance was owing to the 
bad management of the transports, to the fearful confusion 
among the different commands, and the impaired condition 
of the road which had become almost impassable through 
the long continued rainy weather. On arriving at Fal- 
mouth we made preparations to go into winter quarters by 
building comfortable log huts. Our camp was about three 
miles from the river close to the railroad, and as the adjacent 
forest furnished good building material we were soon in 
comfortable quarters. Yet much dissatisfaction was per- 
ceptible in the army, rations often short were of bad quality, 
the clothing and shoes worn out, and it was several weeks 
before these inconveniences were remedied. The men had 
not been paid for six months, which put them in bad humor. 
To make things still worse, our knapsacks which had been 


left on the Peninsula in August, were returned in a bad con- 
dition and emptied of their former contents, so that many 
lost man}' valuables in the shape of presents, journals, etc.; 
therefore the temper of our regiment was not very enviable." 


December 13-15, 18G2. 

Gen. Burnside organized his army into three Grand 
Divisions ; the Right under Sumner, the Center under Hooker, 
the Left under Franklin ; about 120,000 officers and men 
equipped, ready for service — infantry, cavalry and artillery. 
The "center grand division " comprised the 3d corps Gen. 
Stoneman, 5th corps Gen. Danl. Butterfield, and Gen. 
Averell's cavalry brigade. The First Regiment of Sharp- 
shooters were attached to the 1st division commanded by 
Gen. Griffin, (5th corps), the regiment being under command 
of Lieut. -Col. Trepp. The Second Sharpshooters com- 
manded by Major Stoughton, were attached to the 1st 
division of the 1st corps, in the "left grand division." 

It was the hope of Gen. Burnside to separate the rebel 
forces, to get between their wings and crush them. For 
this purpose he sent Franklin's troops several miles below 
Fredericksburg, where they crossed the Rappahannock 
after some delay with the bridges on the 12th, ready for 
action on the morning of the 13th when the attack was 
ordered. In the meantime Sumner and Hooker had crossed 
at Fredericksburg, after the most obstinate resistance from 
the enemy concealed in the houses and streets, who for a 
time drove the bridge-builders away, so hot and destructive 
was. their fire, so that it became necessary to shell the city, 
our guns opening from the elevated ground above, causing 


much damage to the buildings, leaving many of them in 
ruins. Even then, the enemy would not stop, but with 
a persistency worthy of a better cause — the Union cause — 
they blazed away until some of our troops succeeded in 
crossing in boats and charged on them, taking some pris- 
oners. Then it was a running fight through the streets for 
a long time before they were finally driven off. Right there, 
was a battle in itself, as evidenced by the heavy losses 

Gen. Burnside says: "No more difficult feat has been 
performed during the war than the throwing of these 
bridges in the face of the enemy by these brave men." 

And Gen. Woodbury, commanding Engineer Brigade, in 
reporting the dangers incurred in this work, said : "It is 
generally considered a brave feat to cross a bridge of any 
length under fire, although the time of danger may not last 
more than a minute or two. How much more difficult to 
build a bridge exposed for hours to the same murderous 
fire, the danger increasing as the bridge is extended." 

When the battle began in earnest, it was a general 
engagement all along the lines. The enemy being strongly 
posted on the high ground back of Fredericksburg extend- 
ing down past Franklin's front, the advantages were all 
on their side, their artillery being posted so as to command 
all our approaches, while their infantry were equally as well 
distributed to give our troops the hot reception the}^ were 
destined to receive. Although for a time we met with some 
success on our left, in crossing the plain to the hills, by 
Meade's and Gibbon's divisions of Reynold's 1st corps, 
taking a number of prisoners, the former even occupying a 
portion of the crest for awhile, it was useless ; and after a 
hard and destructive engagement all day the 13th, with 
desultory efforts the 14th and 15th, our troops were 
ordered to withdraw across the Rappahannock, which was 
successfully done in good order by the morning of the 'i.6th. 

IN Till-: Ainiv 01- THE POTOMAC. 219 

The cannonading in this action was deafening and pro- 
longed which, with the heavy musketry, was a constant 
uproar indicating more death and wounds to be recorded. 

Gen. Reynolds in his report of the battle says: "The 
gallantry and steadiness of the troops brought into action 
on the left is deserving of great praise, the new regiments 
vieing with the veterans in steadiness and coolness. That the 
brilliant attack made and the advanced position gained by 
them were not more successful in their results was due to 
the strong character of the enemy's defenses ; the advantage 
he had of observing all our dispositions, while he made his 
own to meet them entirely under cover." 

Sumner's division on the right, made a futile attempt to 
effect a lodgment on the heights. Hooker's command; 
reduced by the withdrawal of the 3d corps, two divisions 
of which were ordered to reinforce Franklin, and one to 
relieve Howard in Fredericksburg; now consisting of but 
the 5th corps, pushed boldly for the crest but was repulsed. 
Gen. Hooker in his report, says he tried without avail to 
dissuade Gen. Burnside from making the attack, as from 
information received by a prisoner he became convinced that 
the enemy were only too willing to have him come on. 

"I returned," he says, "and brought up every available 
battery, with the intention of breaking their barriers, to 
enable Butterfield's attacking column to carry the crest. 
This artillery fire was continued with great vigor until near 
sunset, when the attack with bayonet was made by 
Humphreys' division. * * * This attack was made with 
a spirit and determination seldom, if ever, equaled in war. 
The impregnable position of the enemy had given them so 
strong an advantage that the attack was almost immedi- 
ately repulsed." 

That the gallant 5th corps, unsupported, owing to the 
withdrawal of the other troops, sustained its reputation as 
true and reliable fighters, in this unequal contest, with a loss 
of over 2,000, whereby the corps was forced to bear the 


burden which the right and center grand divisions combined 
could hardly overcome, at least without great slaughter, 
the testimony above and to follow, is proof-sufficient. For 
Gen. Butterfield adds the weight of these words in their 

"The enemy was posted on his first line securely behind 
a stone wall near the foot of a crest which was covered 
with batteries. The position of these batteries enabled the 
enemy to direct a severe cross-fire ol artillery upon the 
heads of the columns. The enemy's position was one of 
•exceeding strength, and his troops were, well protected. 
During all of the movements and formations the columns 
were subjected to a heavy fire. While endeavoring to force 
their way with powder and ball, no apparent advantage 
was gained. Orders were given to carry the heights with 
the bay'onets. Gen. Sykes was ordered to form a column of 
attack on the right of Humphreys. The attack of 
Humphrevs' and Griffin's divisions was made with a spirit 
and efficiency scarcely, if ever, equaled in the records of this 
war; but the attack was made against a position so 
advantageous and strong to the enemy that it failed." 

During this sanguinary battle the First Sharpshooters 
were held in reserve. On the 13th they occupied a position on 
the north bank of the Rappahannock, and on the following 
■day, crossing the river, remained in the town until the 15th, 
when they were ordered to the front on the picket lines 
where considerable firing had taken place; but it gradually 
quieted down after they appeared on the line, which was 400 
yards from the rebel batteries and but 200 from the enemy's 
picket — the latter firing at every head they could see. The 
Sharpshooters reserved their fire under orders, keeping up a 
sharp lookout. Around them were the results of the past 
davs' conflict, the ground being strewn with dead Union 
soldiers, gallant sacrifices to a better cause than to assault 
impenetrable heights. Stiff and distorted they lay straight- 
v ened out, doubled up— in all manner of startling shapes, 


Mangled corse, nameless to the Sharpshooters, who only 
knew they were Union soldiers — lost in action. 

The Wisconsin men were in reserve during the day, sub- 
ject at times to artillery fire, also during the greater part of 
the night; at half-past three on the morning of the 16th 
they relieved those in front, being selected to watch the 
enemy at that point while the Union forces were recrossing 
the Rappahannock. At daylight they fell back in skirmish 
line to the river, over a mile distant, where they found 
bridges partly taken up, plank being laid to enable them to 
cross ; taking with them 150 stragglers from other regi- 
ments, routed out from the nooks and corners of the streets 
of Fredericksburg, necessarily disturbing these wearied and 
w r orn-out men in their ill-chosen resting places — dispelling 
their dreams of safety and other happy visions. The Wis- 
consin Sharpshooters were the last of the Potomac Army to 
recross the river at Fredericksburg, having covered the 
retreat of the troops on that part of the line. 

Col. Trepp reports as follows: "On the 13th I received 
an order to march with the division, and was assigned a 
place in the column in the rear of Phillip's battery * * * 
and bivouacked for the night near it, about half a mile from 
the bridge over which the rest of the division crossed the 
Rappahannock. On the 14th at about half past seven a.m. 
I received an order to cross the river and report immedi- 
ately to Gen. Griffin, which order was obeyed, and the regi- 
ment entered Fredericksburg at about eight a. m. At about 
noon on the 15th, by order of Gen. Willcox, four companies 
of my regiment were sent out on picket duty, under com- 
mand of Major Hastings, on the left, to connect with Gen. 
Franklin's pickets, and cover a space not before covered. I 
carefully examined the ground and personally superintended 
the posting of the pickets, making perfect the connection 
between Gen. Franklin's right and the block house by the 
railroad. This detachment remained on the outposts until 


it was withdrawn, by order of Gen. Humphre}^s, at about 
half past six a. m. the next day. At about five p. m., by 
order of Gen. Griffin, I sent two companies, under Capt. 
Seaton, on picket on the right. These remained on the out- 
posts until three o'clock next morning, when they were 
relieved, by order of Gen. Griffin. On the 16th, by order of 
Gen. Griffin, the regiment, excepting the four companies on 
the outposts, crossed the Rappahannock at about six a. m. 
at the upper bridge. The said four companies retired as fol- 
lows: Three companies of reserves under Major Hastings, in 
column, and one company, the last on the outposts, as 
skirmishers under Capt. Marble, (Company G), bringing 
with them a number of stragglers from different regiments. 
The regiment was in camp at about noon, all present. 
There have been no casualties in my command during the 

There was one company of the 91st Pennsylvania unre- 
lieved on picket, from Humphreys' division, who held their 
advanced post until ten o'clock that morning, when finding 
themselves in a fix with the enemy swarming down by 
them, some of whom they fired on with effect, others occu- 
pying the town, they fell back to the river above, where 
boats were sent to cross them, one of their men swimming 
the stream therefor. Gen. Butterfield in his report speaks of 
the "gallant behavior of Capt. Lentz and his men," on this 

The Second Sharpshooters performed good service on 
the left, on the skirmish line in the heat of the action of the 
13th, also during the 14th and 15th, and were awarded 
great praise by brigade and division commanders. Their 
casualties were slight. 

W. H. Proctor, of Company E, one of the gallant first 
sergeants of that regiment, furnishes the following interesting 
incidents: "On Sunday the 14th, as we lay in line of battle 
on the open plain, the rebels ran out a long-range cannon 


some two miles or more away on our left flank, and opened 
with solid shot. The first one plowed dirt several rods 
directly in front of us and passed on. The next, and the next, 
were coming still nearer and the regiment was getting 
uneasv, for it was real "tiresome" to wait so long after we saw 
the flash of the gun, before the shot made our acquaintance. 
Major Stoughton told the men to keep quiet. There was 
another flash, and in due time the shot came. It tore the 
knapsack from the back of a man named George A. Clay, in 
Company E, sending the man's clothing, etc., 20 feet in the 
air, and a pack of envelopes in the knapsack was thrown 70 
feet high and distributed in so peculiar a manner as to 
attract the attention of thousands of troops. The shot 
passed under a man named Joiner, raising him about two 
feet, without injuring him any further than a general shak- 
ing up, passing on without doing damage. This rebel gun 
was finally driven away by a battery of ours on the other 
side of the river. 

" On the last day that we held the field, the picket line on 
the extreme left was held by a line of infantry, and the firing 
was so heavy it w T as feared it would bring on an engage- 
ment. We received orders in the afternoon to go out and 
stop that firing. We deployed and lay down among the 
infantry, making them stop firing. The rebs were exposing 
themselves recklessly but were evidently suffering little from 
the infantry. We were directed to use our ammunition only 
when it would count. We got in some fine work, when soon 
they almost ceased firing, and commenced calling to us to 
stop ; asserting that we were shooting our own men, wast- 
ing ammunition. An officer riding up to the stonewall falling 
with a shot in the arm from our fire, a white rag was held 
up— they wanted to have a talk. So we arranged the mat- 
ter, meeting in the center of the field between the two lines, 
our infantry having previously gone back. One of the first 


salutations I received was: 'We knew you when you first 
began to shoot. We met you before at Yorktown.' (It was 
the First Regiment at Yorktown.) They said our guns were 
too sharp for them, and agreed to fire no more without 
notice ; we then went back to our line and everything was 

Capt. Chase, of Company A, who had been placed in com- 
mand of the right wing of the skirmish line by Maj. Stough- 
ton, writing after the battle said: "On Saturday the 13th 
our regiment was deployed on the extreme left flank extend- 
ing from the line of battle to the river, with the 24th New 
York for a reserve. We were under heavy artillery fire all day 
(14th), as well as that of their sharpshooters. About noon 
we charged on a piece of woods occupied by a large force of 
rebs which our artillery had been trying in vain for an hour 
to drive out, but they skedaddled like the very devil when we 
went in. We killed a large number, took 10 prisoners and 
eight horses. I secured a splendid gray belonging to a cap- 
tain of cavalry. It is probable that the next call the captain 
hears will be from the trumpet of Gabriel. There were 
more hair-breadth escapes than I ever saw in any previous 
battle." After referring to the incidents given by Comrade 
Proctor, he continues : "Another shot struck within a foot 
of Pettijohn (Dyer B., first sergeant) filling his ears so full of 
dirt that he had to go to a brook and wash them out, and 
strange to say no one was seriously hurt." Capt. Wright 
(then lieutenant "A") wrote Dec. 26, 1862: "W T hen the 
retreat was ordered our regiment was on picket, we lost 
none killed as we know of, but there were four of Company 
A left behind, whether wounded next morning or taken pris- 
oners I could not say; they were James, O'Neal, Stacey and 
Ben Hamlet. Our regiment numbers about 121 for duty." 
George E. James was captured and never returned, Henry 
O'Neal was also taken prisoner, he returning in May follow- 



Gen. Doubled a v commanding 1st division, 1st army corps, 
says: On the morning of the 13th * * * relieving Gen. 
Meade's advanced troops with the Sharpshooters, three- 
quarters of a mile from the Bernard House, on the other side 
of a deep gorge or ravine, we pressed on for about half a 
mile, driving in the enemy's skirmishers as we advanced. 

:: * The action of the batteries having prepared the way 
for an infantry attack, I directed Gen. Meredith to take these 
woods with his brigade. The 7th Wisconsin volunteers and 
the 24-th Michigan led the advance, preceded by the Second 
Regiment United States Sharpshooters, and carried the wood 
in gallant style, taking a number of prisoners and horses." 

Col. Walter Phelps, Jr., brigade commander, in his report 
mentions the Sharpshooters thus: "Aboutthree p.m. (14th) 
one of the enemy's batteries opened upon our left at long 
range, perfectly enfilading us. * * * The Second United 
States Sharpshooters were engaged as skirmishers during 
the day, also two companies of the 30th New York Vols., 
and succeeded in protecting the artillery and infantry from 
the severe fire of the enemy's skirmishers. On Monday the 
15th * * * I ordered the Second U. S. Sharpshooters to 
the front as skirmishers, and they engaged the enemy's pick- 
ets during the day. * * * I cannot speak too highly of 
the commanding officer of the Second U. S. Sharpshooters, 
Major Stoughton," and others named. 

Col. Wm. F. Rogers, brigade commander, among other 
testimonials of merit, says: "I take pleasure also in testi- 
fying to the very efficient service rendered by the Second U. 
S. Sharpshooters, under Major Stoughton, of Col. Phelps 

All of which shows that the Green Coats were there — on 
the front lines— doing their duty in a highly honorable man- 

The battle of Fredericksburg was the occasion of severe 
criticism by the general public at home, and the militarv 
board at Washington ; although the people themselves were 
greatly responsible in their howling demands for "more bat- 
tles." The stav-at-homes liked too well to see them — in 


print. The movement of the army was delayed over a 
month from the time it left Warrenton until the attack, ow- 
ing to the delay in forwarding the pontoons for the bridges 
from the Upper Potomac, although the troops fronted the 
position in ample time to have assured success before the 
Confederates concentrated in front — all ready to whip us. 
It only proves the difficulty too often encountered in carry- 
ing out the programme mapped out for action. If some of 
our generals were blamed for being tardy — consuming too 
much time in preparation — forgetful of the fact that great 
undertakings of a military nature cannot safely be rushed 
too fast, there may be ample cause for the delay. Besides, it 
is too hazardous where so much is at stake, to hurry away, 
and renders the reckless movement subject to defeat and 
demoralization. To get ready, is one thing that often 
depends on the assistance rendered in the matter of supplies; 
to go, when ready, is another. Whether Burnside blundered 
or others were at fault, failing with the pontoons — or both 
— it will never alter the heart-rending fact, that the battle of 
Fredericksburg was a useless slaughter — with a loss to the 
Union army according to government reports of 10,884 
killed and wounded, and 1,769 captured and missing. Total 

Returning to camp near Falmouth the Sharpshooters 
remained in quarters until December 30th when the First 
Regiment was ordered on a reconnoissance along the Rap- 
pahannock westerly, with their division commanded by Col. 
Barnes, of the 18th Massachusetts. 


Dec. 31, 1862. 

Marching some 10 or 15 miles they halted for the 
night at Richards' Ford on the Upper Rappahannock, 


where on the following morning, the last day of the year, a 
brisk skirmish occurred with the enemy's cavalry stationed 
on the opposite bank. A small force of cavalry accompanied 
the expedition, with a few pieces of artillery. The cavalry 
being ordered to cross the river, proceeded to do so under 
the fire of the rebel Stuart's cavalrymen, which was 
returned with interest by the Sharpshooters posted on the 
river bank, thus protecting the party crossing, driving the 
enemy from their position in short order unable to with- 
stand the effect of the close shots fired upon them. The 
enemy then fell back to the cover of the woods a mile away, 
the cavalry squad following them up and establishing a 
picket line on the plain, having taken one prisoner. Three 
companies of Sharpshooters followed after, approaching 
the river through a rocky, precipitous washout, the water 
mid-deep and very cold, chilling and benumbing the men 
through and through. Charles H. Berner, of Company B, 
being present, tells how "quite a number fell on the slippery 
stones, pitched headlong and backward, getting wet all 
over, while some needed to be assisted in getting up, else 
would they have been drowned, One unfortunate cavalry 
man got a complete ducking, being thrown into the water 
by his horse slipping and falling over." Thus wading the 
river under fire, and forming line on the other side they 
remained near our cavalry until a small brigade, its ranks 
greatly decimated by the casualties of war, joined them. 
While on the open plain facing the woods in front, they 
were greatly annoyed by a concealed rebel in a thick tree- 
top on the edge of the wood, who had been amusing him- 
self taking "sighting shots " upon our boys. Finally, Adjt. 
Horton who was in command, ordered a volley fired, 
which must have taken the reb by surprise, as he was found 
on their approach in a sprawling position at the foot of the 
tree, pretty much used up. 


This small force with seven cavalry vedettes then moved 
forward, the infantry keeping the road, while the Sharp- 
shooters went ahead as skirmishers and flankers, Company 
G being on the flank. The rebel cavalry began to practice 
their old game of firing at our forces as we moved on, and after 
emptying their carbines wheeling suddenly, running away. 
This was done several times, when Horton ordered a squad 
of the Sharpshooters to rush forward as far as possible, 
keeping concealed from view on the wooded roadside, and 
when the enemy again appeared, to break into the middle of 
the road and try again the virtue of a rattling volley of 
well aimed bullets. This plan was carried out to perfection, 
the rebels leaving behind one of their number whose horse 
was shot down, and himself captured after a long chase 
through the thick brush, he running the gauntlet of many 
shots as he tried to get away. He proved to be a hard 
customer who. hated to give up. As Kirkham, of G, after- 
wards expressed it : 

"He was as mad as a piper; the very ugliest brute I 
met with in the army." 

His face was torn and scratched so much with briars as 
to be covered with blood, while one of his hands was singed 
with a Sharps' bullet. His comrades keep out of sight 
thereafter, thereby saving their cartridges. The seven 
cavalrymen were joined by Horton who had previously run 
down a retreating rebel, and now led by the Sharpshooter 
adjutant, this small mounted party galloped off in hot pur- 
suit, capturing several more of the gang. 

Leaving the river, advancing two miles south, the 
column changed direction to the right, and moving up 
stream, after skirmishing upwards of nine miles through 
thick brush and woods, the infantry keeping the road, 
recrossed the river about dark at Ellis' Ford, where they 
rested for the night. On the day following, Jan. 1,1863, 
they left the Ford, skirmishing back to the Union lines which 


they reached in the afternoon, having fallen in with no large 
force of the enemy while away. The balance of the Sharp- 
shooter regiment held their position at Richards' Ford dur- 
ing the day and over night, watching well the opposite 
shore, but with no sign of the enemy hovering about. In 
the evening all arrived back to camp considerably fatigued 
but without loss. 

While passing through the woods on the return trip, 
being out as flankers, their line of march ran into a lot of 
chicken coops that had been hid there. The coops were 
sent flying out of the path, but not till after each man in B 
Company at least, got one or more chickens, and some 
turkeys. As chicken roosts were scarce around Falmouth 
and it being New Year's day, they concluded it would be a 
good plan to take them in as prisoners. 

It was an expedition of importance that required quick 
movements and forced marching, which at that time of year 
none but veterans inured to hardships had any business to 
endure. Wading cold rivers could have but one issue with 
less hardy soldiers, and that, subsequent sickness with prob- 
able serious results. But it seemed as if the old soldiers 
could stand everything without any apparent ill effects 
from their hard, fatiguing duties. Their endurance was 
remarkable, particularly from the short rest required to go 
again. They were indeed men of iron, that it seemed 
almost impossible could be worn out. Tired and exhausted 
they often were, but their powers of revival proved the 
stamina and good condition of these well trained troops. 

The First and Second Regiments were soon after formed 
into a Sharpshooter brigade in accordance with the follow- 
ing order from Gen. Burnside: 

"Headquarters Army of the Potomac,) 
Camp near Falmouth, Ya., Jan. 14, 1863. f 
The regiments and companies of Sharpshooters in this 
army will form a distinct arm of the service, and will be 


under the command of Col. Berdan, as Chief of Sharpshoot- 
ers, who will report directly to these headquarters. Detach- 
ments from this force will be sent from time to time to the 
different grand divisions on detached service, to be used as 

Previous to this formation, the First Regiment had 
been divided into two battalions and attached to Sumner's 
and Hooker's corps respectively, but were soon after 
ordered together again. While thus temporarily separated, 
the Wisconsin company furnished another acting sergeant- 
major, in the person of Sergt. B. D. At well. 


Taking part in the "Mud Campaign," as Burnside's 
last movement was afterwards named, our brigade (ex- 
cepting "F," First, which remained at headquarters) left 
camp near Falmouth, Jan. 20th, marching to the vicinity 
of Banks' Ford, seven miles distant, where they arrived in 
the afternoon, remaining over night in the woods, concealed 
from the enemy who were posted on the opposite bank of 
the Rappahannock. During the night a heavy rain set in, 
pouring down in torrents, which rendered the roads impass- 
able for artiller}', also prevented the troops from going 
farther. They were in reality stuck in the mud. And to 
that extent it seemed impossible to extricate the cannon, 
but by hard work in which men and horses were exhausted, 
they finally succeeded and returned to camp on the 23d; 
the movement being of necessity abandoned, the rain contin- 
uing the whole time. This unexpected outcome of the 
attempt to turn the enemy's position, was very dishearten- 
ing to the troops, who returned from the expedition dis- 

in thf; army of thic potomac. 231 

couraged and weary; having been obliged to corduroy the 
roads to enable them to come back. As an illustration of 
the difficulties encountered by the engineer corps in con- 
structing roads for the passage of the artillery, the officer in 
charge, on being ordered to make a requisition for what was 
necessary to accomplish the work, did so by calling for "50 
men, 25 feet high, to work in the mud 18 feet deep." 




The army now remained in winter quarters, our brigade 
near Stoneman's Switch not far from Falmouth. Picket 
duty was in order, and when the weather permitted being 
ordered out to drill. Company and battalion movements 
it was very essential must not be forgotten — the soldiers 
could not be too perfect. 

At a meeting of the officers of the two regiments at 
brigade headquarters early in the spring, a proposition was 
made by the colonel commanding, to have a celebration on 
a grand scale on the anniversary of the Sharpshooters' first 
advance on Yorktown. For this purpose a committee of 
arrangements was appointed, and a programme prepared. 
The principal feature being a Grand Shooting Match 
between the different company champions in each regiment, 
for a regimental silver medal, the winners of which were to 
shoot off for a gold one. For several days previous, the 
members of each company were being tested, the picked 
men of which were to receive a diploma, with a chance to 
win the champion medals. On the test shooting a number 
of good targets were made, according to the terms agreed 
upon, viz., five off-hand shots at 100 yards, open sight, 
string measurement — the shooting to be done with Sharps 
army rifle. 

At half-past nine in the morning, after guard mounting, 
the different companies were marched on to the color line, 


and after a brief and appropriate address by Col. Berdan, 
a new, beautiful flag was hoisted on the flagstaff amid 
the cheers of the assembled soldiers. The order of exercises 
being read by one of the committee, they proceeded to the 
target ground where the shooting began in the presence of 
a large number of visitors. Capts. Nash, Company K, First 
Regiment, Guest, B., Second Regiment, attended to the call- 
ing off; Capt. Smith, G, Second Regiment, Lieut. Wells, B, 
First Regiment, the targets; while Capt. McClure, D, Sec- 
ond Regiment, Lieut. Stevens, G, First Regiment, measured 
the strings. Each man furnished his own target, which was 
handed in to the committee. The Second Regiment having 
won the "toss" commenced the shooting, their winner 
being a Vermonter, Albert G. Culver. The First Regiment 
winner wasSamuel Tngling, of Michigan. The two winners 
of the regimental medals then shot off for the gold medal, 
which was won by the Michigan man. These medals were 
verj' appropriate, were made in New York, the design being 
furnished by the committee, subscription therefor, likewise 
the prize money, being obtained from the officers of both 
regiments. The next in order being a three-shot string from 
a tree top 200 yards distant, for a purse of $10, was won by 
Lamprey, of New Hampshire, Second Regiment, Joseph 
Sleeper, of Wisconsin, being ahead in the First Regiment. 
Several long shots of 1,000 yards were then made by Col. 
Berdan, Capt. Marble, and other officers with both Sharps 
and telescopic rifles. 

The assemblage then repaired to the running ground to 
witness the various pedestrianic efforts, Nash and Stevens, 
being the judges. The first in order was a 200-yard race 
against time, for two prizes, $10 and $5 — open to one man 
in each company of both regiments. Won by Private Barto- 
mey, of Vermont, and Sergt. Lye, of Wisconsin, (both 
First Regiment). Time, 28V2 seconds each. Lye who had 
been unwell then withdrew, and was awarded second prize. 


Next, two 100-yard sack races, creating great merriment. 
After which, came the 400-yard foot race, $10 and $5, run 
in pairs. After many exciting struggles showing the activ- 
ity and strength of the men, the deciding heat lay between 
Peaslee, of New Hampshire, Gardener, of New York, and 
Van Buren, of Wisconsin. The "Badger" got the lead on 
turning the hundred yard stake, but the New Yorker closed 
up towards the end of the race and won by a yard. Time 
one minute, six seconds. Van Buren took the second prize. 
The greased pole, cock-fighting, wrestling, jumping, etc., 
wound up the sports. 

The greased pole, of course, was as usual the occasion of 
a good deal of fun, particularly the ludicrous fate of a well 
known member of Company B, known as the " Wild Jersey- 
man." Failing in his first attempt, he pulled off his 
trowsers, making the second trial in government cotton 
flannels, and was well on his way to the top where the $5 
gold piece was fastened, when the mishap occurred — a beau- 
tiful example of the shoddy character of the underclothes 
the men often drew. They couldn't stand the strain, so 
down came Jim treble-quick, and amid the greatest of 
shouts he retired to his poncho. In the wrestling, Jacob S. 
Bailey, a Yermonter (of Company F, First), obtained the 
victory — the principal contest being with a tall, raw-boned 
Michigander, who after an exciting struggle was defeated by 
the Green Mountain Boy amid loud applause, In jumping, 
the Sharpshooter colonel led by several inches with 
apparent ease, to the great surprise of all, Lieut. -Col. Trepp 

"Berdan, he beats der teifel ! He takes der rifle and 
beats der boys, an' now he scoops 'em jumping." 

He did it without weights, too. At dark the men retired 
to their quarters, well pleased with the day's entertainment. 
Among the officers present, were Gen. Whipple, division com- 
mander, also a number of ladies. It was one of those 


happy holiday 3 that sometimes occurred in the army, but 
not very often; which generally ends with the intended 
effect, as on this occasion, in making all concerned feel bet- 
ter, enlivening them up, dispelling lor a time the dull and 
languid spirit resulting from a lengthy routine of camp 
duties. Often the troops are rolled out from their lethargic 
state, hurriedly assembled and marched off many miles, to 
return to the vicinity, where they build new camps on fresh 
fields, as often within a half mile of the old ones; which 
change tends to improve the general health— the sanitary 
condition of the soldiers. Exercise was what they needed, 
and plenty of it, to fit them for future hardships on the 
great marches. Snowball contests were engaged in, there 
being frequently long lines of battle extending to regiments 
and even brigades, when it was fun to see the snow fly. It 
was not always play either, for rough usage would occur, 
many a sorry looking fellow would get more than he bar- 
gained for, causing hard feelings, with a frequent desire to 
"rough and tumble." But as a general thing, it had a bene- 
ficial effect — it was good exercise. 

Yet, notwithstanding the morale of the troops in gen- 
eral was considered excellent, there was one bad habit, one 
prevailing vice in all the camps— the passion for gambling — 
although it was strictly against orders; nor did it affect the 
enlisted men alone. Every effort to -break it up, utterly 
failed. Not that all, or by any means a majority of the men 
indulged in it, still there were always enough that did, to 
make it a common practice in every regiment. The boys 
would play, yet while this pastime had a bad effect, princi- 
pally affecting their pockets, it didn't appear to affect their 
efficiency while on duty. They were good soldiers. 

The first sergeants of each company had been furnished 
with a telescope rifle, to be used only upon special occa- 
sions; which were afterwards turned in, being too heavy to 
carry around, and as previously stated, unfit for general 


use on a skirmish line. These rifles were all right in a fixed 
position — a good rest — and did great work at long range, 
particularly among the enemy's batteries. But for hurried 
off-hand shooting, skirmishing or in line of battle, the open 
sights could be brought to the eye quicker, and even the 
muzzle-loading muskets with which the infantry were armed 
could be loaded quicker, while the breech-loading Sharps 
were far ahead of all, for rapid firing. The great improve- 
ments made in the breech-loading system since the war of 
the Rebellion, particularly in the metallic ammunition, have 
caused the muzzle-loaders to be discarded. A line of battle 
of breech-loaders lying down can shoot faster and do more 
execution on a charging column, than heretofore when the 
bite and tear cartridge and rammer were used, besides caus- 
ing less exposure to the men. A charging column at the 
present day must needs be very brave, to face a line of 
breech-loaders, as they will hardly get there. It was owing 
to the success attained by the Berdan Sharpshooters, in 
developing the superiority of the Sharps breech-loading rifle 
over any other known weapon in use, in point of safety to 
the men as well as execution in firing, for I never knew of 
an accident occurring by premature discharge of a Sharps 
rifle, that caused so soon after the war the substitution of 
the breech-loading system, improved upon, in all manner of 
firearms. The American manufacturers opened their eyes to 
the fact, that a safer and better gun could be loaded at the 
breech, in shot-guns as well as rifles. To Col. Berdan's per- 
sistency in urging the government to furnish his command 
with these arms while at Camp of Instruction, in response 
to the demands of the members of both regiments, is the 
credit largely due for the general substitution after the war 
of the breech-loading gun. 

Notwithstandingthe arduous duties often imposed on the 
soldiers, they could always manage to get up a little fun 
amongst themselves — even on the most trying occasions. 


The little jokes they played on each other served to break the 
force of their irksome camp life, to lighten the load as it were, 
of their monotony. Whileat this camp an old member of an 
adjoining regiment returned from the southern prisons in a 
very shabby condition. Being furnished with a new outfit 
of clean clothes, he was requested to go with the boys to 
the river and take a good wash. So they went down, and 
got the old fellow in up to his neck, when the boys scrubbed 
away, after first lathering him with Rappahannock mud, 
and finally began to get some of the prison dirt off. But 
were for awhile nonplused at the curious color of his body, 
when to their surprise they developed an old shirt stuck 
close to his skin, which he said he thought he had lost long 
before— had missed it among his scanty wardrobe, and 
didn't know it was there. He laughed at their taunts, say- 
ing he was so much ahead. Yet they didn't allow him to 
preserve it as a memento, but east it afar off into the cur- 
rent, and as the owner eyed it floating away, he sighed and 
walked away as if he had lost an old friend, as the shirt 
must have been, for it had certainly stuck to him very 

About this time, Company D lost one of their best 
marksmen, a man who had made his mark as such, in the 
person of Cyrus J. Hathaway, who was discharged to 
accept a commission as second lieutenant in the 114th New 
York, and though it was a great loss to the Sharpshooter 
service, was cheerfully acquiesced in by his company, on 
account of the deserved promotion. 

Often during their picket duties exciting times occurred, 
which at least served to keep the soldiers in an animated 
condition. On the night of March 27th an event transpired 
whereby the entire division picket force was aroused and 
brought into line in anticipation of an attack. It appears 
that fronting the picket line was a large opening or field 
probably 1,000 yards across, beyond which at the farther 


extremity of a wood, our cavalry vedettes were stationed. 
Orders had been given the Sharpshooters who were on the 
right of the line adjoining an old turnpike, to give notice, 
by firing if necessary, of any approach of the enemy in our 
front. The Wisconsin company had the line, and the lieuten- 
ant in command was very particular about these orders, 
instructing the men at their posts to watch and listen 
intently, the night being very dark, and if any demonstra- 
tion was apparent in front, to "obey orders." During the 
fore part of the night some scattering shots were heard ahead 
where the cavalry were, and what with the distant signal 
lights bobbing up and down, and the aforesaid orders to 
keep a sharp lookout, it appeared rather evident that the 
stealthy approach of the Johnnies was expected, at head- 
quarters. Therefore, when at the midnight hour, a number 
of shots being heard, followed by a sharp clatter of hoofs on 
the hard road leading from the extreme front, as several cav- 
alry men came rushing back, more scared than hurt, Post 
No. 1, fired. As most of the boj'S were snoozing at the time, 
those not on duty, a grand hustle was made by the lieuten- 
ant and his orderly sergeant (Jacobs), to get the company 
into line behind the pickets, before " Old Trepp " came rush- 
ing up, which he very soon did, accompanied by a num- 
ber of others, all mounted, from general down. Inquiring 
closely into the matter, all now being quiet at the front, 
finally in response to the lieutenant's statement about the 
orders to fire, the colonel retired, after informing the picket 
officer to be very careful about firing off the guns as, "it dis- 
turbed the whole concern." The "whole concern," which 
was the division reserves in our rear, were considerabh r dis- 
turbed that time, for it is doubtful if they ever rolled out 
from sweet sleep quicker or more excited, before or since, than 
on that occasion. The boys of Company G couldn't sleep 
the balance of the night with laughing over it. The next 
day while returning to camp, the reserves yelled over to the 


23 l J 

Sharpshooters to know who it was started that alarm, when 
some of the company wags cried back: "Oh! only a wide- 
awake lieutenant from Wisconsin." As that officer was nap- 
ping at the time of the firing (relieved by the first sergeant), 
and who jumped a good four feet when it occurred, the boys 
of G laughed in their sleeves. For a long time after, the out- 
going pickets from other regiments would inquire of the 
Sharpshooters, if that "wide-awake lieutenant" was in the 
crowd, which, however, he most always wasn't. 

These picket posts were not gen- 
erally the pleasantest places to lie in, 
from the fact that a species of crawl- 
ers generating in the army, known by 
•old pabd." the euphonious name of "gray backs," 

infested the posts to an amazing extent; the result being 
that on returning to camp a general wash-up and boiling of 
clothes followed. This was one of the ills that the soldiers had 
to "grin and bear," but they soon got used to it and became 
as expert in catching the "little critters," except when they 
got into the seams of their clothes — a favorite hiding place — 
as the early bird after the worm. These little army pets 
were the source of considerable amusement at times, and 
many stories are told about them, one of which will do for 
an illustration : 


A well-known and popular Wisconsin colonel, who 
deserved to be president of an anti-cruelty-to-animals society, 
while out on the parade-ground one Sunday with the chap- 
lain, preparing for services, having his attention called by 
the minister to the fact, that an unusually large grayback 
was crawling over his emaculate boiled shirt front, instantly 
grasping the wiggling thing with his fingers exclaimed: 
"You infernal straggler, go back to your quarters," when he 
deliberately put it inside his shirt and let it roam within. 


Possibly he concluded that if they were so thick as to break 
out to the front, 'twas no use to exterminate the bold inter- 


Skulking and misbehavior in action, were matters on 
which all worthy commanding officers were severe. The fol- 
lowingincidents,however,will illustrate themanner in which 
disobedience of orders of an unimportant or trivial nature, 
were often treated, when the comfort of the soldier was ir- 
volved. Even the strictest disciplinarian who was not a con- 
firmed tyrant, was disposed to be lenient in certain cases, 
especially when rations were scarce, and the men undergoing 
severe service. Asa general rule the strict colonel or regi- 
mental commander, was the friend of the soldier, and was so 
regarded by the intelligent and trusty. On one of the long 
marches when rations were scarce, a man in Company A 
stole a chicken, notwithstanding the general orders against 
foraging, and not knowing when he would have a chance to 
cook it, carried it alive in his haversack. The chicken kept 
peeping, and as he marched at the head of the regiment, Col. 
Berdan could not well pretend that he didn't hear it, as the 
night was still and the chicken had a good voice — a stalwart 
peeper. So he ordered the man under arrest, and when he 
came before the colonel's drum-head court-martial with 
others, the next day, the colonel asked him for w r hat was he 
under arrest. The man replied: "For stealing a chicken." 
"Are you sure?" asked the colonel. "Yes," said the man, 
meekly. "Keep him under guard at the rear of the regi- 
ment," ordered the colonel. In a day or two he was ques- 
tioned in the same way, giving the same answer. The third 
time he was asked why he was arrested, becoming more out- 
spoken with his long humiliation, he replied : " For not hav- 
ing cut the chicken's head off." "Go to your company ! " at 
once said the colonel. There were no more chickens carried 
alive in the haversacks. 


On another occasion when the regiment camped for the 
night where there was no wood for fire to boil the coffee, so 
that the men were compelled to take fence rails despite 
orders to the contrary, one of the men in order to save time 
made a short cut, which took him in front of the colonel's 
tent. He was at once brought to a halt, and then and there 
made to march in front of the tent for a half hour with the 
rail across his back. The colonel then stopped him, asking 
if he knew for what he had been punished, he promptly 
replying — for he was a Yank — "Oh, yes! because I did not go 
behind your tent." "Go to your company," said the colo- 
nel. He got well laughed at by his comrades, and the old 
proverb was made clear to him that, "the longest way 
around was the shortest way home." 

The first punishment for cowardice the colonel inflicted 
on one of his soldiers, was while lying before Yorktown, 
because the man refused to advance when the enemy were 
shelling us sharply. He was frightened and behaved very 
cowardly. That evening the colonel called him out at dress 
parade and made a brief address to the command, stating 
that while some men were constitutional cowards, they 
were not to blame for it, as it was part of their nature. 
Then speaking of the incident of the day, called the man to 
the front, ordering the officer of the day to take his gun from 
him, and put him on fatigue duty. By the way, a light pun- 
ishment compared with what a Regular soldier would have 
received, but in this case it proved sufficient. In a few days 
the captain of the company asked the colonel to give the 
man another trial, which he declined to do unless a petition 
signed by every member of the company to restore him was 
received. This was furnished and the man restored to his 
place in the ranks. It had a salutary effect, and no com- 
plaint was heard of him thereafter. But Col. Berdan said 
he anticipated the man's return to the company, in the way 
it happened, and pursued this course, deeming it more effect- 


ual to work on the soldier's pride by demanding the peti- 
tion. Such discipline was effective in keeping the men up to 
their work, to give and take shots with the spirit of veter- 
ans, which was all that was necessary to make a splendid 
fighting regiment out of such material; particularly if they 
found their officers willing to share the dangers with them. 
Much of the honor gained is due to the special service we 
had, and the advantage of arms used, coupled with their 
great skill in handling the rifle, and yet it is but fair to infer 
that much also is due to the prompt treatment of first 

As the fighters never complained of what was required 
of them under fire, but were ready to respond however great 
the odds against them, both Berdau and Trepp when in 
command, and the latter was very strict in the field, were 
disposed to be lenient with the boys when in camp and sub- 
ject to trivial offenses. This would naturally have a ten- 
dency to inculcate a good feeling between officers and men. 
"Trouble in camp," however, at times existed among the 
Sharpshooters as in other regiments, and there were very 
few that escaped this unpleasant state of affairs — one of 
the evil results of lying in camp too long. Officers would 
find fault, often amongst themselves almost to an open 
quarrel; prevented only by fear of the consequences under 
the strict rules of the regulations. As it was, arrests were 
made and courts-martial summoned. Particularly was 
this the case at Falmouth in the winter of '63, when several 
officers were under arrest on various charges. Nor did Col. 
Berdan himself escape; on the contrar\\ a long list of 
charges and specifications were preferred against him. But 
because an officer or enlisted man happened to be court- 
martialed, it did not always follow that he should have 
been, or that he was adjudged guilty. It frequently trans- 
pired otherwise, and did so in pretty much all the cases in 
our (First) regiment in this camp, that the accused party 


received a strong vindication by the court in the verdict of 
acquittal; and in the case of Col. Berdan, the court after 
hearing the evidence of the prosecution, stopped all further 
proceedings by refusing to occupy any further time hearing 
any evidence he (Col. Berdan) might have to offer, adjudg- 
ing him "not guilty" on all charges and specifications. 
And this was about the way they generally turned out. 
Bad blood enough, no doubt, but worse evidence. The 
enlisted men, they that handled the weapons that did the 
fighting, were silent lookers-on, wondering why their officers 
quarreled so. Was this setting a proper example? 




Shortly after the failure of the late movement, not by 
the enemy, Gen. Hooker was appointed to the command of 
the Army of the Potomac, vice Burnside relieved. Again 
the hopes of the soldiers revived, for the gallant bearing of 
Hooker in all the past campaigns of the Potomac army, in 
which he had been prominently engaged at the head of 
divisions and corps, had won for him the respect and confi- 
dence of the troops in general. Not that they entertained 
ill-feelings towards Burnside because of the failure of the 
movements under his command, as much as they may have 
doubted his wisdom in fighting at Fredericksburg, yet were 
they easily reconciled to the change. And now the stirring 
spirit of Hooker infused new life in the army, as they readily 
became convinced that the change was for the better, atid 
were determined to prove themselves worthy soldiers of so 
gallant a leader. 

A reorganization of the army followed, the system of 
grand divisions being abolished, and changes made in the 
assignment of troops. The brigade of Sharpshooters was 
attached to the 3d corps, being the 3d brigade of the 3d 
division, thus parting with the 5th corps with which the 
First Regiment had been connected from its organization, 
sharing its glories and sufferings, and getting back to the 


corps they originally started with on the Peninsula cam- 
paign. The brigade was commanded by Col. Berdan, the 
division by Gen. Whipple, the corps by Gen. Sickles. 

The commanding general was now busy getting his 
troops in proper fighting trim before the campaign opened, 
and the days were fully occupied in the "general training," 
included in which was target practice — firing by volleys, 
firing at will, in every position. Finally, orders came to 
issue eight days' rations and 60 rounds of ammunition ; 
while surplus clothing was turned in, and the necessary 
preparations made for the next move on the military chess 
board. All was bustle without confusion, and Hooker's 
boast that he had the "finest army on the planet, " seemed 
to be realized. 


May 1-4, 1863. 

On the 28th of April the Sharpshooters broke camp in 
the afternoon and as part of the 3d corps marched down the 
river to the left of the Union army below Fredericksburg, 
where they arrived during the night and rested under arms. 
Tjbe men were well equipped, carrying 60 rounds of ammuni- 
tion, eight days' rations, overcoats and rubber blankets. 
Two men in each company were also furnished with "climb- 
ers," to be used on special occasions in climbing trees. 

On the morning of the 29th they were distant witnesses 
to the storming of the rebel rifle pits at Fitz Hugh Crossing, 
by the sturdy Iron Brigade, which were successfully carried 
and several hundred prisoners taken. 

The Sharpshooters remained under arms near the river 
until the afternoon of the 30th, the weather having been 
thus far rainy and unpleasant. Gen. Sickles havingreceived 


orders to charge his position to the extreme right, at two 
p. it. that day the corps moved off. Making a detour to 
the rear to avoid observation by the enemy on the south 
bank of the river, marching by the old camping ground, 
they arrived at and crossed the Rappahannock at United 
States Ford at nine o'clock on the morning of May 1st, hav- 
ing marched upwards of 20 miles during their roundabout 
route, resting once, when they obtained four hours' sleep — 
from two to six a.m. — on the damp ground. While en route, 
some 200 rebel prisoners passed by, they recognizing the 
Green Coats, remarking as the}- passed along: "There goes 
them Sharp fellows." 

The weather being warm, and the men loaded with 
knapsacks well packed, haversacks and canteens filled, with 
a full complement of ammunition, they became considerably 
fatigued, many being foot sore; yet there was no strag- 
gling, no flinching, or apparent wish to back out from the 
expected conflict. Having crossed the river on pontoon 
bridge, which by its swinging motion caused the men to 
stagger, they proceeded, after a hurried coffee, forward ; 
eventually halting in the afternoon in a piece of woods by 
the roadside, being in the portion of country known as the 

Soon after, four companies were posted as pickets two 
and a half paces apart, in the thick woods 200 yards from 
the right of the road, to prevent surprise from that direc- 
tion ; the road being full of teams, pack mules, etc., which 
jostled along in considerable confusion. While on this serv- 
ice, Company K (First) caught two spies dressed in blue. 
About sunset they were recalled, and assembling on the 
roadside proceeded with their division to the front where 
heavy cannonading and some musketry had been heard. 
Halting in the neighborhood of the building afterwards 
used by Gen. Hooker as headquarters — the Chancellor 
House — they remained in reserve in water and mud, while a 


sharp skirmish was going on in front — the Union batteries 
on their left speaking loudly. A squad of rebel cavalry 
made a daring attempt to capture one of the guns, but were 
soon scattered by a discharge of cased shot and canister, 
which riddled their ranks, causing the balance to scamper 
back by a road through the dense pine forest in a hurried 
manner. During this day the battle was opened by the 2d, 
5th and 12th corps (commanded by Couch, Meade and 
Slocum respectively), who engaged the enemy at a point a 
mile and a half east, on the road to Fredericksburg, but 
were afterwards withdrawn to the new lines formed around 
Chancellorsville. Soon after dark general quietness pre- 
vailed along the lines, and the Sharpshooters were allowed 
to lie down for several hours and to make themselves as 
comfortable as circumstances permitted. But they obtained 
but little of the needed rest, owing to the wet state of the 
ground and the fact that their blankets and overcoats had 
been left with their knapsacks in the timber by the roadside. 
At the hour of midnight they returned to this place and 
rested until early on the morning of the 2d, when after a 
hasty breakfast, they changed position by moving forward 
to the left of the "headquarters" building into a brushy 
piece of woods, where after remaining a few hours during 
which time works were being hurriedly thrown up by diffei- 
ent troops, they left their knapsacks in charge of a guard 
and moved off in light marching order to the right, being 
temporarily attached to the first division, commanded by 
Gen. Birney. 

Previous to making this movement Companies E and K 
were ordered to report to a battery both' engaged in our 
front. Soon after, an aid informed Lieut. Thorp that: 
"Your orders are to advance out on this plank road in the 
form of a letter V, the point in front, drive the rebel skir- 
mishers in, find their main force and report back." This 
was done with E on the left side of the road, K on the right. 


Before starting, a battery man gave them the encouraging 
information that some of our infantry had been driven in 
three times, but that "they wouldn't get driven back;" 
thus showing his confidence in the Sharpshooters. And he 
was right, for although after emerging from the lopped trees 
and brush in front of the battery, they were subjected to at 
least 100 shots, the balls passing through hats, coats, hav 
ersacks, etc., tearing up the ground around them, yet 
strangely hurting none, they pressed on, driving the enemy 
away until they came up to a full brigade, when they were 
finally ordered back. On this venture, some sharp duels 
took place. Among them, Lieut. Thorp using a sick man's 
gun (John Long), had several close encounters, getting his 
ear grazed, the seam of his sleeve cut, but invariably bring- 
ing down his opponent, and afterwards breaking his gun. 
The infantry supports keeping too close up, suffered consid- 
erable, while the active, dodging Sharpshooters wonderfully 
escaped. Having rejoined the other compares, they were 
in the following engagement held in reserve a short distance 
behind our skirmish line. 


Proceeding a short distance along the Fredericksburg 
turnpike, the two Sharpshooter regiments filed left onto a 
cross-road and through a dense thicket of pines. Emerging 
from these, they reached an opening or small farm which 
presented a dilapidated appearance, and near the house dis- 
covered a battery firing to the left at the rebel artillerists, 
who were in turn sending shot and shell into some infantrv- 
of the 12th corps stationed at the time on the farm. Among 
these troops were the 3d Wisconsin, which regiment was 
passed at the roadside. Crossing Scott's Run, hastily 


bridged with rails, Col. Berclan deployed his brigade on 
entering a bushy slope, and soon alter skirmishing began. 
It was not long before shots were exchanged, our men 
advancing up the slope through the dense thicket, onto the 
more level ground above — the cover being poor, the cedar 
trees, although numerous, small in size. The little brigade 
pushing forward, driving back the opposing force, were not 
long in sighting the enemy below them opposite the hill, 
who with a piece of artillery and some teams were hurriedly 
moving away. A brisk fight then ensued, the Second Sharp- 
shooters on the left commencing the firing, followed 
instantly by the First Regiment who were on the right, hav- 
ing wheeled to the left on receiving the information quickly 
passed along the line, that "the Graybacks were on the left 
below the hill." So rapidly did they fire, advancing at the 
same time, that but a short time elapsed before a white flag 
was raised by the enemy, a major and 60 men surrendering 
as prisoners, the Sharpshooters having cornered them. 

The Second Regiment soon after, being threatened on 
their left flank, Capt. Chase ran down the line and caused 
Company E to about face and left wheel, to protect that 
end of the line, and while conducting the movement, this 
good officer was mortally wounded. 

When the flag was first raised, the order to "cease fir- 
ing" was given, and for a few moments the skirmishers 
allowed their rifles to cool. But 'twas not so with a party 
of rebels in the opposite timber, who continued to "blaze 
away " in a manner that savored of mischief. Whereupon, 
Private John Ross, a German raw recruit from Milwaukee, 
vehemently exclaimed: 

"Secesh (cease) firing? MeinGott! Such secesh (cease) 
firing I never see before! " 

And with the discharge of his rifle he left the skirmish 
line, running rapidly ahead. At this moment the order to 
advance was again given, and the men hurried forward, 


but Ross had the lead, and apparently regardless of conse- 
quences rushed to a suspicious looking building on the 
opposite rise of ground. Meantime, the Sharpshooters 
crowded the enemy so close they were obliged to leave a 
caisson, one of the horses being shot, but escaped with their 
cannon and transports. Their wagon train was seen in the 
distance, so Col. Berdan hurried his men forward in hopes 
of breaking it up, but it had got too far down the road and 
escaped. The captured caisson was rendered useless by 
wrenching off the wheels and upsetting it with its ammuni- 
tion into a creek near by. Ross, who pronounced the word 
cease, "secesh," and who afterwards saw the joke when 
told that in reality the secesh were firing, was lost to view 
for a few moments ; but soon after, he appeared driving a 
fine horse and buggy with a wealthy resident of Fredericks- 
burg by his side. The team and prisoner were sent to the 
rear, and in the buggy was found under the seat several 
thousand rounds of cartridges, with which the prisoner was 
endeavoring to get away when overhauled by the 
emphatic recruit. 

The riflemen had now established their line along the 
road where the caisson was captured, their center being at 
the building above mentioned which proved to be a foundry 
— Welford's Furnace— where the enemy had lately been 
making deadly missiles to hurl into the Union ranks. In 
front was an open field, and beyond, four hundred yards 
distant, was a dense wood. Oneof the Union batteries taking 
a position near the old foundry fired away for a while, but 
their ammunition giving out, they fell back with a number of 
their men wounded by the enemy's guns, which latter 
having the exact range sent shot and shell into them very 
seriously. The rebel battery finally ceased its fire, but the 
contest along the skirmish line was kept up by the Sharp- 
shooters, and the enemy posted in the opposite wood. And 
although the shooting was carried on at times sharply, 



yet if no more damage was sustained by the rebels than 
was the case on our Hue, the results in a killed and wounded 
point of view were immaterial ; although there is good 
reason to believe that the foe had a hot time of it, as our 
riflemen who had taken cover under the road bank behind a 
snake fence, sent well aimed shots at different squads as 
they passed along the edge of the timber, and a great 
scattering among them was observable; while on our right 
60 Sharpshooters having cornered a body of rebels in a 
railroad cut discovered by lookouts posted in trees along 
the roadside, forced them to surrender under cover of our 
ready rifles. It was sudden. The determined attitude, 
aiming and ready to fire, had a very demoralizing effect on 
the huddling Johnnies — caught in their own trap. They 
numbered some 300, and with those captured before, con- 
stituted all of the 23d Georgia regiment (365) excepting 
their colonel who escaped. These troops were well dressed, 
and although they did not look hungry, said they came 
over to "help eat them eight days' rations." 

This force when first discovered were creeping up onto 
our line, but were driven back by order of Capt. James H. 
Baker after some rapid firing, and forced to take shelter in 
the cut; Capt. Steele the rebel commander surrendering his 
sword to Capt. Baker, who sent them to the rear. Lieut. 
C. W. Thorp received the prisoners and took them back 
with his company, K, turning them over to the provost 
guard in the woods, where they met Gen. Sickles who asked 
who took the prisoners, and the provost officer said he did. 
"The deuce you did," ejaculated the general, "there's the 
Sharpshooters, they captured these men." "Yes," said 
Thorp, "our regiment captured them, and I brought them 
back with my reserve company; and I learned, general, 
from these prisoners that their troops are moving up to 
flank us on the right." "We'll take care of them" said 
Sickles, as Thorp started back to his former position. This 


must have been the first positive information Gen. Sickles 
received as to the intention of Jackson's command. 

James H. Galloway, of Company I, of the force capturing 
the main body at the railroad cut, had a close call for his 
life, a bullet grazing his scalp knocking him down, but Eli 
Cook and Frank Dolton of the same company rescued him 
from the dangerous position where he lay. Lieut. Thorp 
also carried oft" from another part of the field a wounded 
man, Walter J, Christy, the target of scores of shots while 
performing the humane act. 

The casualties in the Cedars are given in full, with sub- 
sequent losses. Many had narrow escapes during the 
afternoon, especially a part}- of flankers under Sergt. Lye, 
ordered over the field beyond a small creek, to feel the 
opposite woods. They soon felt the presence of a large 
force of the enemy, whereby they were obliged to retire hurried- 
ly over the creek in which several of the party got drenched, 
the bullets flying about uncomfortably close. Among them, 
B. E. Loomis had his cap box shot away, but luckily his 
rifle was well stocked with primers, whereby he could snap 
away. These primers were not always equal to the emer- 
gency, frequently failing to explode the cartridge "first 
pop," whereas the hat-caps were always sure, and were 
therefore generally relied on. 

This particular fight — at the Furnace — was named after 
the thick, clustering cedar trees and bushes scattered over 
the field, in honor of the Sharpshooters and their supports, 
for their conspicuous success therein. Gen. Birnev, in his 
congratulatory order to his division, adds the name of "The 
Cedars" to their battle-flag. 

The following from a regular army officer, at the time 
colonel of the 37th New York, commanding 3d brigade of 
Birney's division, had this to say relative to the Sharp- 
shooter service at this place. After describing the fight and 
the part taken by his brigade therein, he adds: 


"The enemy's supports to their sharpshooters endeav- 
ored, apparently, to escape and serve as rear guard to a 
train which was moving to our right, but were induced to 
take shelter in a railroad cut by the fire of our Sharp- 
shooters, where they were soon outflanked, when they sur- 
rendered. The whole number of prisoners is reported to be 
365, including 19 officers. The Sharpshooters understand 
the true tactics of skirmishers, are possessed of enterprise 
and courage, and were maneuvered with great skill and 
address by Col. Berdan, and I regard it as one of the best 
organizations of the volunteer service." — Samuel B. Hay- 

The movements on the 2d of May were hardly expected 
to result in a great battle, the opposing armies rather feeling 
each other preparatory to a general engagement, which was 
looked for by the soldiers themselves, on the next day; 
although some sharp fighting had been going on along the 
front lines — on the right, the Sharpshooters in their advanced 
position doing their part in holdingin check a portion of the 
enemy until reinforcements from our own corps swung 
around. On the left, heavy firing was heard on Hancock's 
front, and it was evident that the enemy were closing in for 
hot work. When therefore after sunset we were ordered to 
fall back noiselessly, the firing having mostly ceased, and 
halting suddenly scarce a mile distant in an open field 
among artillery and infantry, stacked arms and commanded 
to rest in place, without rations — they having been left with 
knapsacks under guard — it was not surprising that long 
faces were met with on every side on learning that we were 
cut off. Our boys could not understand it. Success had 
attended their efforts that afternoon, capturing as they did, 
men and horses numbering nearly as many as their own 
brigade — pushing the Confederates back and holding them 
at bay until the supports came up. But the force in front 
was but a small portion of the rebel army — the rear guard 
of Jackson's flanking column. 


The Union line of battle was a long one, and the enemy 
had their choice of any portion of the same to attack in 
force; and when with persistent fury they burst sud- 
denly at six o'clock on the advanced lines of the 11th corps 
on our extreme right, the latter gave way, and became 
greatly disordered as they fell back, until checked— but too 
late— by the batteries of the 3d corps under Pleasanton and 

In the 11th corps was the 26th Wisconsin (a German 
regiment), which although in their first action, stoutly 
withstood the sudden and powerful attack of the crowding, 
yelling Johnnies, until almost surrounded, when they were 
forced to beat a retreat from their position, suffering con- 
siderable loss. 'Twas unavoidable, and impossible for them 
in face of the overwhelming numbers that rushed upon them, 
to do otherwise than fall back. The 119th and 58th New 
York also made a gallant resistance. 

Gen. Carl Schurz, commanding 3d division, shows the 
desperate nature of this conflict: "Tht 26th Wisconsin, 
flanked on both sides and exposed to a terrible fire in front, 
maintained the unequal contest for a considerable time, 
1 nor did it fall back until I ordered it to do so. There 
is hardly an officer who has not at least received a bullet 
through his clothes. Had it not been for the praiseworthv 
firmness of these men the enemy would have obtained pos- 
session of the woods opposite without resistance, taken the 
north and south rifle pits from the rear, and appeared on 
the Plank road between Dowdall's Tavern and Chancellors- 
ville before the artillery could have been withdrawn." 

On some portions of the line the men of this corps were 
filling their haversacks with hard-tack from boxes lying 
broken about, and while eating the same in supposed 
security from sudden attacks, were thus surprised, having 
scarce time to seize their guns from the stacks and scamper 
off, with the rebs close after them. The result was confusion 
confounded, the rebels having all the fun there was in it to 


themselves. 'Twas a very unwelcome surprise to us all. 
Our right was turned, Jackson fell on Sickles' rear— far 

within our lines — an entering wedge of cold steel threaten- 
ing to split us up. It was a well planned and better executed 
movement on Jackson's part— but it proved his last 

Notwithstanding the "half moon" men, as the 1 1 th 
corps was known by its badge, were blamed for this reverse, 
which undoubtedly was the main cause of the failure of the 
campaign, it is doubtful if other troops under the circum- 
stances, could have held their ground ; owing to the extreme 
position held by this corps — afar out — with its right or 
northern wing unprotected, with dense woods around them 
concealing the stealthy advance of the foe to within charg- 
ing distance — backed -up by 30,000 Confederate troops. 
For even if it is true that pickets were not thrown out, 
which has been denied, the men in the ranks were not 
responsible for any neglect of their officers, whether field or 
general ; for Hooker had given explicit orders to scout well 
the front, and had it been well done a couple of miles in 
advance, the enemy would have been discovered forming 
for the charge. That's where the Sharpshooter service 
would have counted again — skirmishing far enough in 
advance, whereby in the battle given the enemy, timely 
warning would have been received by the troops behind ; 
as was the case where the Sharpshooters were used, before 
and after. As to the failure of the men to rally until they 
passed behind the main army, it is simply one of those too 
frequent results attending a panic. 

Gen. Sickles made a gallant fight in his efforts to check 
the furious onslaught, and was obliged to withdraw the 
divisions of Birney and Whipple from their advanced posi- 
tion across Scott's Run and near the Wilderness foundry, 
using his batteries with great effect. When he first heard of 
the disaster he refused to believe it — we had not heard their 


guns — and was about to push his corps reinforced on to the 
rear of the enemy's column, when direct word came from 
general headquarters, at almost the same time he saw the 
exultant enemy come down his front, with the 11th men in 
full retreat. The 8th Pennsylvania cavalry were sent by 
Gen. Pleasanton to break the enemy's advance, and to their 
credit, "brilliantly was the service performed, although 
with fearful loss." 

Major Hue}-, commanding says: "We moved off briskly 
to the right. * * * The enemy's skirmish line had crossed 
the road on which we were moving, throwing us between 
their skirmishers and battle line. The whole regiment made 
a desperate charge on the main column of Jackson's corps 
who were crossing the road in our front, completely check- 
ing the enemy, losing Major Keenan, Capt. Arrowsmith and 
Adjt. Haddock, with about 30 men and about 80 horses. I 
immediately re-formed the regiment to support the Reserve 

Gen. Sickles thus describes the situation: "I confided to 
Pleasanton the direction of the artillery * * * time was 
everything. The fugitives of the 11th corps swarmed from 
the woods and swept frantically over the cleared fields, in 
which my artillery was parked. The exulting enemy at 
their heels mingled yells with their volleys, and in the con- 
fusion which followed it seemed as if cannon and caissons, 
dragoons, cannoneers, and infantry could never be disen- 
tangled from the mass in which they were suddenly thrown. 
** * * A few minutes was enough to restore comparative 
order and get our artillery in position. The enemy showing 
himself on the plain, Pleasanton met the shock at short 
range with the well directed fire of twenty-two pieces, 
double-shotted with canister." 

Gen. Pleasanton reports: "They advanced in silence, 
and with that skill and adroitness they often display to 
gain their object. The only color visible was an American 
flag with the center battalion. To clear up this doubt my 
aide-de-camp, Lieut. Thomson, 1st New York Cavalry, rode 
to within 100 vards of them, when thev called out to hiir, 


'We are friends; come on !' and he was induced to go 50 
yards closer, when the whole line, in a most dastardly man- 
ner, opened on him with musketry, dropped the American 
color, and displayed 8 or 10 rebel battle-flags. Lieut. Thom- 
son escaped unhurt." 

Gen. Sickles again: "The heads of the columns were 
swept away to the woods from which they opened p furi- 
ous but ineffectual fire of musketry. Twice they attempted 
a flank movement, but the first was checked by our guns, 
and the second and most formidable was baffled by the 
advance of Whipple and Birney, who were coming up 
rapidly, but in perfect order, and forming in lines of brigades 
in rear of the artillery, and on the flanks. My position was 
now secure in the adequate infantry support which had 
arrived ; the lotid cheers of our men as twilight closed the 
combat vainly challenged the enenry to renew the encounter. 
* * * After dark, the enemy's line could only be defined 
by the flash of his musketry, from which a stream of fire 
occasionally almost enveloped us. As often as these attacks 
were renewed, generally with fresh troops, and aided by his 
artillery, they were repulsed by our guns, now directed by 
Randolph on the flank and by Osborn in front. Ascertain- 
ing the enterprise of cutting us off from the army to be 
hopeless, the enemy suddenW withdrew to the line of rifle 
pits and breastworks formerly held by the 11th corps. Sev- 
eral of our guns and caissons were immediately recovered 
from the woods the enemy had occupied, and to quote the 
felicitous observations of Gen. Pleasanton : 'Such was the 
fight at the head of Scott's Run — artillery against infantry 
at 300 yards; the infantry in the forest, the artillery in the 
clearing.' War presents many anomalies, but few so strange 
in its results as this." 

In the meantime, Sickles' 2d division commanded b\ r 
Gen. Berry, which had been in reserve near Chancellor 
House, was ordered by Gen. Hooker to a line on the Plank 
road where in conjunction with their artillery they aided in 
the discomfiture of the advancing foe. In this, the}' were 
assisted by a division of the 12th corps which had been 

severely engaged that afternoon under command of Gen. 



Williams. That officer says that the casualties in his first 
brigade (Gen. Knipe) the afternoon of May 2d, included 
besides the large number of men, killed, wounded and pris- 
oners, the further loss of every regimental commander in 
that brigade; that many of the reported missing after dark 
undoubtedly fell under the heavy fire of the enemy concealed 
in the woods and rifle pits. Gen. Knipe's brigade certainly 
had hard luck, being at one time within speaking distance 
of the enemy, who came very near cutting him and his entire 
command off. He tells the story thus : 

"The advance to our original position was made after 
dark; arriving behind the barricades without meeting any 
opposition and without the knowledge that the enemy had 
at an}' time had possession of them. I had just taken this 
position when some half dozen of the enemy came forward 
through the bushes, unarmed. Upon being asked who they 
were they replied, 'We are Confederates, coming in to give 
ourselves up; we are tired and hungry.' I at once sent them 
to the rear. Immediately after this, I observed another 
party approaching. I hailed them, asking what troops they 
were. The answer was, 'We are friends.' I became prett}' 
well satisfied by this time that the prisoners in my hands 
had been sent forward as a decoy. I was then asked by th.e 
parties in my front what troops we were. I answered, 'We 
are Confederates,' and the response was, 'We are Confed- 
erates.' I asked of whose command, and received an 
answer, 'Gen. A. P. Hill's.' I told them to come in, intend- 
ing to make prisoners of them as fast as they came over the 
barricades. At this time my attention was called to a 
movement on my right and rear. I immediately rode in that 
direction, and hailed the party approaching by asking who 
they were. The answer received was, 'Do not come any 
farther, or we will fire.' I replied, 'Do not fire; we are 
friends,' and immediately wheeled about and directed my 
command to move off by the left flank, stooping, so as to 
be sheltered from the enemy's fire in front. At this instant 
the enemy opened upon my line from both front and rear." 
Here he says, he lost one company, K, 128th Pennsylvania 
with their colonel and lieutenant-colonel, cut off on the right 


and captured, and also lost three valuable officers from the 
46th Pennsylvania. 

The 2d corps also did good service during the day, in 
front of Chancellorsville, in defeating the attempts of the 
enemy to break their lines; the skirmish line of Hancock's 
division, under Col. Miles (Nelson A.), repulsing a sharp 
attack of two columns, inflicting upon the enemy severe 
loss. But to the timely action of Gen. Sickles at the critical 
point, should be awarded the praise of saving the army 
from an almost certain general disaster. It was "fight ! " 
with him, and gallantty was it done, notwithstanding the 
limited means at his command — for which, well does he 
deserve the title of the Hero of Chancellorsville. 

The Sharpshooters lay all night in order of battle, tired, 
hungry and full of excitement. Several night attacks by 
portions of the 3d corps occurred during that eventful Sat- 
urday night, Berdan's men remaining in their places under 
arms. But little sleep was obtained, the sudden charges on 
the enemy's line, awaking the country around with the deaf- 
ening noise, and lighting up space with the bright flashes 
from the weapons of death, bringing each man to his feet 
and his hand to his rifle. Besides, unpleasant reflections 
would crowd the minds of those remaining in line awaiting 
orders, on the prospect of the morrow. Then again, would 
the hardy veterans of many hard-fought battle fields banish 
dismal thoughts, and cheering up, laugh and chat together 
— for the last time with some — occasionally telling some 
anecdote of previous campaigns, seemingly caring but little 
for the next movement; on the contrary, had their minds 
made up, and when the time came for action they would be 
on hand. Surely 'twas a time that "tried men's souls." Not 
a living man to-day, present on that occasion, can ever for- 
get the exciting times prevailing that fiercely warlike night, 
when our brigades at the near front charged and recharged 


through dark wood and thicket, with an occasional glimmer 
of the moon to light them on in the path of death. 


It was in this vicinity where the Confederate cause sus- 
tained a heavy shock in the loss of their famous leading gen- 
eral above named, by the severe wounds then received, 
resulting shortly in his death. Early in the evening after 
darkness had settled around, Gen. Jackson rode out in front 
of his lines to reconnoiter, intent on getting between the 
Union arm}- and the crossing at United States Ford ; but 
was soon greeted by a shower of bullets from Gen. Berry's 
brigades of the 3d corps. Turning back, his own troops 
mistook him and his aides for Union cavalry and poured in 
a fatal volley, killing and wounding most of his escort, and 
shooting Jackson in three places. Placed on a stretcher, 
while being carried to his lines, one of the stretcher-bearers 
was killed by a Union shot and others driven away. An- 
other man stumbling, the stretcher fell, and the wounded 
general was further injured by the severe shock received. 
Amid bursting shells and pattering balls singing their 
requiem around him, they succeeded in getting him within 
his lines after considerable effort. He died a week later, on 
May 10th. 

Notwithstanding the bad outcome of the Chancellors- 
ville campaign, our soldiers felt partly recompensed in the 
thought that the}' had gained at least a half-victory when 
they learned that Jackson had fallen. For it is the game of 
war to cripple your adversary as much as possible, and in 
Jackson's death the Confederates were the sufferers, having 
lost a leader whose place could not easily be filled. As a 
skillful general in marching troops, and in holding them to- 
gether in battle, he had no superior — whereby he got the 
name of "Stonewall." His military career must always 
place his name among the foremost in American annals. 



At a very early hour Sunday morning, May 3d, before 
sunrise, Gen. Sickles withdrew his troops to a new line, 
called Fairview, when the fighting commenced again — des- 
tined to be terrific in character and severe with slaughter — 
the decisive engagement at Chancellorsville. 

Soon were they at it, with all the known missiles of war 
on their deathly mission from gray to blue, from blue to 
gray. It was "give and take" with all the fury of deter- 
mined foes, striving to destroy — to win the victory. The 
first onslaught was on one of Sickles' brigades, that had 
not yet fallen back, which repulsed an effort to charge, 
before retiring to the new position. Our troops now con- 
nected, had not long to wait before their great lines were 
seen coming, perfect in alignment, with firm step, as if 
courting death which was so soon to play havoc in their 
ranks — to destroy their formation, to demoralize the living 
remnants. The soldiers of Birney, Whipple and Berry, the 
division of French, and the corps of Slocum, awaited the 
onset. In another moment the crash came, the lines of gray 
and butternut melted away under the storm of lead from 
thousands of muskets, the crashing, mangling shell and shot 
belched forth from loud-mouthed, flaming Union cannon. 
And, what with the uproar, the long, stead}- rolling of the 
infantry, the reverberating artillery, the shrieks of the 
wounded, the yells of the gray, and the cheers of the bluer it 
was simply infernal! Fresh columns came up and renewed 
the attempts to break the Union ranks, with no better suc- 
cess. Thus the contest raged for hours — thus the carnage 


The Sharpshooters hurriedly left their resting place of 
the previous warring night, and moving along the right 
edge of the open plain passed in the rear of the batteries 
that had already got to work. The enemy's fire was hot 
and heavy in reply, and through it Berdan's command had 
to pass, but none were harmed. Marching then by "file 
left" into the dense timber, they deployed out, the Wisconsin 
men in reserve. 

Corp. James H. Galloway, of Company I, of the First 
Sharpshooters, with three other comrades, was sent to the 
front in a piece of woods. The corporal afterwards said: 
"'As I could see no danger, we set our guns against trees to 
eat our breakfast of hard-tack, when we saw a line of 
infantry coming on a by-road. The outside men were 
dressed in our uniform, but the rest had the gray on, which 
we could not see. I supposed they were our men. I told 
them to come on, no one would harm them, when to our 
astonishment the officer in charge told us to surrender or he 
would shoot us. I told him I would not. I got my gun 
and kept dodging so he could not get aim on me. One of 
my comrades, Jerry Brandolph, was shot in the mouth 
before he could turn. The other, Alvin Smith, was shot 
through the hips, and died the next day. The third one, 
D wight Ford, received a bad wound. I succeeded in getting 
back to our reserve." Corp. Galloway was gritty, and 
bound not to surrender, but returned in time to the sup- 
ports to stop the enemy's farther advance. 

Lieut. Thorp, now commanding Company K, (Capt. 
Nash being detailed for staff duty), was ordered with his 
company to support a fresh battery, where he dropped four 
men to each gun, who picked off the enemy's gunners in 
front, completely silencing their battery. A line of battle 
now came on, and their orders: "Prepare to charge," were 
distinctly heard; but they were repulsed, and as they fell 


back, Company F went in, advancing as skirmishers 80 
rods, to the edge of the woods. 

Bullets and shell were soon flying thickly around, and 
the skirmishers became engaged. After awhile, stragglers 
from other regiments began to fall back, when Company G 
was ordered more to the right, the line ahead having moved 
that way. Soon after executing this new movement, this 
company got into the fire, and now again came the time to 
try their metal; but although a sudden sharp volley of bul- 
lets at very short range, not over fifty yards, came into them 
wounding several, yet did they hold their position, return- 
ing the fire with interest until a support could be brought 
to their relief, none being near at hand, which was finally 
obtained through the exertions of Col. Trepp commanding 
the First Regiment. It was impossible to see far through 
the thick under-growth, with the enemy close to the ground 
with which their clothes frequently corresponded, and often 
the flash of their guns only discovered their presence. 

Some other troops having broke under the severity of 
the fire, running by our men, for awhile the latter were sub- 
jected to shots from the Union cannon in the rear, the artil- 
lery supposing none but the enemy were left there. On 
being informed of their mistake by an officer sent back for 
that purpose, they withheld their fire until the Sharpshooters 
got out of range; including our surgeon, Dr. Brennan, who 
was close behind attending to the wounded, and who called 
to the officer as he passed by: "For God's sake, stop those 
guns, till I get these wounded men away; " when they had 
full sweep through the "bush." 

A portion of the First Regiment going ahead as skir- 
mishers, having ran pell-mell on to a body of the enemy in 
the thick wood, on the order of Lieut. Gardner B. Clark 
(afterwards captain), of Company C, to "charge," forced 
them hurriedly to retire, capturing several prisoners, with 
some loss to themselves in killed and wounded. Here again 


was presented a sorrowful example of sudden death, that 
shocked the living witnesses even in the heat of the fray. 
Harmon Wise, a private in Company C, a good natured, 
ready soldier, nicknamed by his comrades "Rough," being 
one of the foremost in the charge, rushed on to a small 
party of the enemy and demanded their surrender. "Yes," 
cried one, "I surrender; " but as he said the word he pulled 
off his gun shooting Rough through the heart, then throw- 
ing down his piece gave himself up to his captors, who 
would not retaliate on an unarmed foe but sent him to the 
rear. The charging party stood aghast for a moment, but 
for a moment only, as time was precious and they were 
obliged to push on, leaving poor Rough their late comrade 
where he fell, to be seen by them no more. 

This Sharpshooter charge of 80 men, was made with 
unfixed bayonets, so eager were they to follow up their 
advantage; the troops driven back proved to be the "Stone- 
wall Brigade, "as was afterwards learned through prisoners 
and confirmed by Lieut. Judkins on detail in the ambulance 
corps, while on the field a few days after, looking for the 
wounded. The charge was so sudden and unexpected, 
immediately after delivering a rattling volley, that the 
enemy concluded a larger lorce was onto them, and fell 
instantly back in disorder to their lines. They boasted that 
it was the first time they had been driven. 

In the afternoon Col. Berdan marched his men to the 
rear, after falling back from the woods where our artillery 
swept through, that they might rest and procure rations, 
the most of them having lost theirs with the knapsacks, 
the woods taking fire and the enemy afterwards occupying 
the ground. The most heart-rending picture of the whole 
battle field was the fire that raged, whereby such of the 
wounded that may not have been carried off the field, were 
suffocated and burned. Fortunate were those who had to 
die, that they did so before the holocaust began. Towards 


night, the dense smoke on some portions of the field, hung 
like a pall over the men, stifling and blinding them at times 
— a fearful sight. 

Many of the members of both regiments becoming sep- 
arated from their companies, remained at the front over 
night; their duties thereby becoming extra arduous. Col. 
Berdan reporteq 1 some 325 prisoners captured this day, 
which with the number taken at the Cedars, made a total 
of about 700 to the credit of the Sharpshooters. He also 
says : 

"On Sunday afternoon, a detachment of about 120 men 
was posted near the building occupied as a hospital, under 
the command of Capt. Wilson, and at the request of Gen. 
Barnes, of the 1st division 5th corps, it drove the enemy 
from the woods and established a picket line for a portion of 
the 5th corps. He was afterwards ordered by Gen. Sickles 
to move to the left and establish the line in front of the 3d 
corps, which was done. He was relieved on Monday morn- 
ing by my Second Regiment, and the remainder of my com- 
mand was stationed behind slight works, thrown up by 
themselves, like the rest of the forces in the vicinity." 

These picket lines were established by the Sharpshooters 
in the midst of heavy firing; without faltering, but with a 
quick, determined step, they advanced their line in perfect 
dress — preserving their intervals as beautifully as on a prize 
drill. These movements were watched by officers and 
soldiers behind them, whose opinion of the Sharpshooter 
service can best be judged by the following excerpts: 

Gen. Sickles: "The Sharpshooters, under Col. Berdan, 
supported the First Brigade on the right, throwing out a 
strong line of skirmishers to the front in the woods. These 
splendid light troops rendered the most effective service. 
Major Hastings was severely wounded while upon this duty 
with his battalion." 


Major Hastings of the First Regiment was wounded in 
the hip, having had two horses shot under him, one being 
killed. The major did not return to the regiment, being 
afterwards detailed on duty in Washington. 

Capt. Dalton, A. A. G. 3d division 3d A. C: "The U. S. 
Sharpshooters were placed on the right of the 1st brigade 
to prevent the enemy from flanking our right. They were 
deployed in the woods and did most excellent service." 

Col. Ellis, 124th New York, reporting the Sunday fight, 
after being ordered to the right to protect the battery, says: 
"Here we found some Sharpshooters under Major Hastings, 
and as we advanced in line of battle through a thick w r ood 
we were opened upon by a large force of the rebels on our 
front and right flank, and a severe engagement of about an 
hour's duration ensued, the enemy in force trying to drive 
us and capture the battery. Our men fought like tigers, 
cheering loudly and falling fast. * * * Three color-bear- 
ers were here shot down in succession, but the colors never 
touched the ground." In about an hour's time, the battery 
being withdrawn, and troops on the left retiring, he fellback 
to escape "certain capture." 

Caldwell's brigade of the 2d corps during the morning 
advanced through the woods where the Sharpshooters were, 
driving the enemy, under heavy artiller\- fire and musketry, 
meeting with considerable loss, particularly in the 148th 
Pennsylvania, but were finally forced to retire, owing to a 
threatened flank movement of a superior force. 

Gen. Barnes, commanding 1st brigade, says: "Capt. 
John Wilson, commanding two companies of Berdan's 
Sharpshooters, advanced handsomely, deployed to thefront, 
and occupied the woods in advance." 

Nor should the hard fought batteries be forgotten, many 
of which were subjected to a terrific exposure from the 
enemy's cannon, as also their small arms. The Union artil- 
lerists often had a hard time in battle, and particularly was 


this the case at Chancellorsville, owing to their expc sed 

The following from Gen. Slocum, commanding 12th 
corps, shows in brief how they suffered: "At about nine 
a. m. the troops on the right of my command fell back, 
which was soon followed by a portion of my line. The 
enemy at once gained a position which enabled him to use 
his infantry against our batteries. The artillery, however, 
held its position until two batter}'' commanders, Capt. 
Hampton and Lieut. Crosby, were killed beside their pieces, 
until 63 cannoneers were killed or wounded, and until 80 
horses had been shot in the harness. The batteries were 
then retired to a position in rear of our second line without 
the loss of a single piece." 

Gen. Hancock of 2d corps : " Notwithstanding that my 
flank w^as entirely exposed, our 14 pieces of artillery pre- 
vented the enemy from advancing, although his battle-flags 
w r ere within a few hundred yards of us. The troops, how- 
ever, suffered heavy losses from the enemy's artillery. 
* * * Leppien's (5th Maine) battery of five guns, on the 
right of the Chancellor House, lost all its officers, cannon- 
eers, and horses for the guns. I made a detail of men who 
removed the pieces by hand to a place of safety." 

Gen. Couch the corps commander thus speaks of Gen. 
Hancock: "I express my thanks to this officer for his gal- 
lantry, energy, and his example of marked personal braver v." 
He also compliments Gen. French and his "fine troops," and 
Gen. Gibbon and his 2d division. 

After the campaign, Gen. Hancock succeeded Couch in 
command of the 2d corps, and was to receive still further 
renown as a brave, faithful and popular commander. 

During the morning, Gen. Hooker narrowly escaped 
death from a cannon ball striking a pillar of the Chancellor 
House, while leaning against the same. As it was he was 
completely stunned, remaining insensible for over an hour. 
During this important period Gen. Sickles had applied for 
more troops to help him and his 3d corps, while sorely 


pressed by the enemy, from before whom he was finally 
obliged to fall back with his ammunition exhausted ; the 
expected relief not coming to his assistance, although there 
was at the time a large force of troops not engaged, to 
draw from — three corps — none of the other generals seem- 
ingly wishing to take upon themselves the responsibility, 
hoping that Hooker would soon recover. During the day 
Gen. Hiram G. Berr}-, commanding 2d division, was 

'T was a hard contest, the brunt of which fell on the 
lines of the 3d and 12th corps, also a portion of the 2d corps. 
Their "lost in action" in this Sunday's fight, helped largely 
to swell the total for the campaign. The commanding posi- 
tion which the enemy's artillerists obtained in the morning, 
after we fell back to Fairview, completely enfiladed out- 
lines, placing the troops of these three corps under a series 
of cross-fires exceedingly difficult to withstand— thus giving 
the Confederates a great advantage— which only the most 
determined resistance, prevented their superior numbers 
from inflicting a disastrous defeat. Had the 1st corps — one 
of the best in the army — been allowed to go in, followed up 
by Meade's reserves — the Fighting Fifth — striking the enemy 
on the flank, not only was a great victory assured us, but 
the prospect of Lee's signal defeat if not entire destruction, 
seemed inevitable. This fresh attack of fresh troops at the 
opportune moment, would have demoralized the whole rebel 
host. Then, Hooker's name would have risen to the 

In a public address many years thereafter, Gen. 
Sickles speaking of "Fighting Joe," said: "When Hooker 
stopped, few would go any farther," was a quotation 
applying to Hooker, and that described his character. 
Regarding Hooker at Chancellorsvflle: The proof of the 
skill with which the battle was planned, was in its being 


considered of so much importance, that it was used at West 
Point for stud}-, as one of the best plans of battle of the late 


During the night the Sharpshooters rested near a hos- 
pital — dreaded place — and in vain the tired soldier lulled to 
sleep, 'mid the groans of the wounded around him. But 
nature's sweet balm conquered at last, nor cries, nor 
shrieks, could prevent sound slumber during the final hour, 
when he was to be aroused for further duty. 

The next morning, May 4th, they again moved up to 
the front, after witnessing the shelling of the Union wagon 
train across the river before daylight, by a rebel batter}' 
which was soon captured. Col. Berdan having been placed 
in charge of the outposts, took out a detail of 10 volunteers 
to the skirmish line, for the purpose of silencing the rebel 
sharpshooters who were sending their shots over to our 
lines and into the reserves; and advancing the skirmishers 
firing, drove back those of the enemy, holding the ground 
thereafter. While lying in reserve behind the artillery, one 
battery of which was composed of men from the Iron 
Brigade, the division commander Amiel W. Whipple, who 
had been busy superintending the movements in front, was 
shot by the enemy's pickets a half mile distant, while among 
our Sharpshooters; being struck near the spine and mor- 
tally wounded, dying shortly after. He was greatly re- 
spected as a brave and efficient officer, much sorrow being 
evinced at his fall. But no place was safe from shot and 
shell there. Several others were wounded by these stray 
bullets. After Berdan's line had driven the rebels off, their 
firing was stopped, although the shells and cannon shot 
continued on both sides. 

The regimental adjutant, Wm. H. Horton, acting aid to 
Col. Berdan, was severely wounded in arm and side, while 


with gun in hand he was rushing forward to capture some 
rebel scouts. He was formerly the leader of our scouts at 
Yorktown, when sergeant-major of the regiment. Once more 
he was performing the same duty, having with him these 
Wisconsin members: Jacobs, Albert Isham, Armfield, Stokes, 
Alvord, and the present sergeant-major, Ben Atwell; some 
of whom had served under him at the former place. The 
adjutant was a brave, gallant officer, and a great loss to 
the serviee. He deserved a better fate, his arm being ampu- 

This day the Second Sharpshooters were on the picket 
line; the First Regiment lying a half mile back in reserve 
where they threw up breastworks, being subject to stray 
rebel shot, and in the afternoon to rebel shell — a brigade 
having roused the enemy by a sudden charge through the 
woods within sight of our position. Not much fighting, 
however, going on to-day. During the night the heavy 
booming of cannon heard from down the river served to 
keep the boys reminded of the probabilities of another clash 
of arms on the day to follow. It appears that the 6th corps 
under Sedgwick, after having captured the formidable 
Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg the day before in a 
hard fight, being now surrounded on three sides by a large 
force of the enemy at Salem Heights, while attempting to 
connect with the main army, were obliged to recross the 
Rappahannock at Banks' Ford, after a gallant contest in 
which the enemy were repeatedly repulsed in their efforts to 
cut Sedgwick off, losing 9 pieces of artillery and 1,400 pris- 
oners captured by our men — but at the fearful cost to the 
Union of over 3,000 killed and wounded. 

A very important reconnoissance was made on the 4th 
towards Fredericksburg by Charles J. Buchanan and Edwin 
F. Nelson, volunteers for the purpose, which disclosed the 
fact that the enemy had left; at least from that particular 
front where the commands of Capt. Wilson and Capt. 


McLean were stationed. The enemy had evidently gone in 

the direction of Sedgwick's position, to attack the 6th army 
corps, and it was believed by many of our officers and men 
afterwards, that had the information obtained by the two 
Sharpshooters named, and reported to army headquarters, 
been appreciated and acted upon, it might have changed the 
face of things that day. However this may be, the incident 
is interesting, as it proves our service to have been distinct- 
ive in character, not only in sharpshooting and as skirmish- 
ers, but as watch dogs right in the face of the enemy to note 
their movements. Going into action as skirmishers five 
paces apart (oftener ten), and frequently in brushy places or 
thickets out of sight of the comrade right and left, often far 
ahead of the regular battle line, each man looking out for 
himself, making of each skirmisher a separate and distinct- 
ive body or force, taking the place in a measure of a com- 
pany, is a performance that brings out to the fullest tensity 
all the perceptive qualities of the individual; while the 
enemy in the largest possible formation, watches this 
isolated skirmisher with the same degree of interest for the 
time being, as they do afterwards the approaching columns. 
So that the skirmisher becomes a very much noted char- 
acter in spite of himself. The orders given these two 
intrepid scouts were to go as far as possible without firing 
if they could avoid it, that is, unless attacked. Pushing 
through the heavy brush and timber, deploj'ed within sight 
of each other, they moved cautiously on, feeling their way, 
starting at the slightest sound, even the flutter of a bird, or 
the jump and run of a rabbit, for a death-like stillness pre- 
vailed, and noting everything about them. All this care 
was very necessary, as these woods the night before had 
concealed a strong force of the enemy, with a heavy picket 
line. Buchanan and Nelson went a long distance, finding no 
enemy in their front nor elsewhere, the rebels having entirely 
withdrawn from the front of this particular position, and 


were then fighting the 6th corps, in their efforts to beat the 
Union army in detail. This information was promptly 
reported to McLean and Wilson, who sent the same to head- 
quarters, but our army at Chancellors ville was hardly in 
condition to avail itself of the opportunity to advance at 
that time. 

Before daylight Tuesday morning May 5th, a portion of 
the First Regiment were sent to the front. They were posted 
on picket in a swampy thicket, the enemy being close by, 
concealed under heavy timber. Here the Sharpshooters 
remained at their posts 17 hours, most of them without 
eating, keeping a careful lookout ahead. Behind them on 
an open field the Union batteries were in position; still 
farther behind lay the Union troops in intrenchments hastily 
made with spade and pick. After daylight, sharp firing 
commenced and was kept up at intervals until dark. Sev- 
eral times during the forenoon did they attempt to drive us 
in, but to no purpose. The right of the picket line gave way 
for a time as the enemy apparently in force appeared, which 
let the Union batteries play into them through the timber. 
This kept them quiet on the right, but not long after, amove 
was made on the left of the Sharpshooters where were 
posted some infantry troops. The Wisconsinites were in the 
center and kept firing when a good opportunity occurred — 
when they saw anything to shoot at. The movement on 
our left was for a time successful; the enemy were heard 
advancing, their orders to ''close up on the right," and 
"oblique to the right," also to "look out for breakers on 
the left," passed along their line, were plainly overheard. It 
happened that their left if they didn't oblique well, would 
bring them in contact with our center in the swamp where 
the Wisconsin company was stationed, which they seemed 
to wish to avoid in their movements. They succeeded in 
driving in those on the left of the Sharpshooter line, advanc- 
ing on that side until they got beyond and within Company 


G's line, when our artillery opened on them from another 
point, sending them back again; the Wisconsin men who 
held their ground behind trees putting in a heavy cross-fire 
as they decamped. Opposite Company K's front the enemy 
tried to get their men to "go in there," using some big 
oaths, but they failed to come "in there." Their moves 
were probably feints to blind our generals, but whether con- 
cluding that their maneuvering was useless, or havingfound 
out something they wished to know, they finally resorted to 
picket firing the balance of the day. 

Shooting was in order until late in the afternoon, many 
close shots being received from the concealed foe. George 
W. Griffin had an open duel with a rebel target shooter who 
had watched our men closely, the least exposure bringing 
forth a bullet. It was some time before he was discovered, 
but finally Griffin stepped out in the open space and brought 
him to light. Their pieces cracked simultaneously, Griffin 
receiving the bullet through his pants below the knee, while 
his opponent — well, if he was not in fitting condition to con- 
tinue his shooting others were there to take his place, which 
was an important position covering an approach along the 
narrow road by which the pickets entered the swamp. 
During the morning the heat and smoke of the burning 
woods was at times intense, but the Sharpshooters refusing 
to be smoked out, remained at their posts until relieved. A 
heavy soaking rain set in during the afternoon, making the 
roads wet and muddy, while a small sluggish stream that 
ran meandering through the swamp and across the lines, 
was soon swollen into a torrent. 'Twas late at night when 
relieved, and marching back to the reserves who were wait- 
ing in water and mud — all drenched to the skin— orders were 
finally received to fall back; they, after a muddy, tiresome 
tramp, reaching the river at U. S. Ford at daybreak on the 
6th, recrossing soon after among a large body of troops. 
The 1st corps which had arrived from Fredericksburg the 




morning of the 3d, taking position on the right of Chancel- 
lorsville but not engaged in the big battle, now formed a 
line behind the army to protect the crossing. 

That the Sharpshooters performed well their allotted 
part in the Chancellors ville campaign, there can be no ques- 
tion — earning further renown for their military behavior. 

Thus ended the Chancellorsville campaign; one of the 
hardest fought, one of the most disastrous of the whole 
series. One in which the hopes of the soldiers were high for 
success on starting out, but were low enough on their 
return. Not that they blamed any one, but fortune seemed 
to be against them; the Confederates still remained a power 
unbroken. And they well knew more severe trials, more 
hard battles must follow, with the usual sad losses, before 
the crowning victory came — as come it must. They were 
determined on that; they never gave up that ultimate con- 

The Union loss is figured up in killed, wounded and 
missing during the seven days' campaign. The "missing " 
includes those captured by the enemy, with others doubtless 
killed in the heat of battle in the thickets or after dark, unbe- 
known to their comrades. Of those who may have eventu- 
ally returned, it is but proper to state that for the time 
being, they were lost to the service — thus reducing to the 
aggregate number, the ranks of their several organizations. 

Cavalry killed and wounded 43, missing- 98 


1st Corps, " 

2d Corps, " 

3d Corps, " 

5th Corps, " 

6th Corps, " 

11th Corps, " 

12th Corps, " 



















Making a grand total of 17,000 — surely enough to 
test the patriotism of our soldiers. 

Among the killed were two good officers who were noted 
for their brave and manly qualities in time of danger viz: 
Lieut. Byron Brewer, of Michigan, killed May 3d by a can- 
non ball through his body. He had been wounded at Gaines' 
Mill, Glendale, and three times at Second Bull Run where he 
was left for dead on the field, was taken in charge by the 
enemy, exchanged, and after several months joined his com- 
pany, C, to die in its line. His was clearly a case of unsub- 
dued patriotism — he enlisted for the war. 

Capt. Dudley P. Chase, of Minnesota, Company A, Sec- 
ond Regiment, wounded in the arm May 2d at the Cedars, 
suffered amputation and died not long after. His company 
joiningthe left division of the First Regiment, the writer was 
talking with him a few moments before he was shot, and 
left him on moving forward, full of patriotic hope for the 
future. He was an estimable officer. 

Col. Berdan makes praiseworthy mention of these offi- 
cers, as also Marble, Nash, Wilson, Rowell, Stoughton and 
others of his brigade, including Adjt. Horton of First and 
Adjt. Norton of the Second. These two adjutants were 
among the tallest and finest looking officers in the corps, 
w r ere very active, and energetic in the heat of battle. In 
mentioning the faithful services of our surgeons, Drs. 
Brennan and Williams, he says of the latter, that although 
wounded "by a ball passing through his arm, he did not 
leave his duties for a moment." 

The chaplain of the Second Regiment, Lorenzo Barber, also 
received great praise, and who well earned the name given 
him by the men, as the "Fighting Parson." On the skirmish 
line lie was earnestly engaged with his telescope-rifle, being 
one of our best marksmen, and on account of his exposure 
and bravery in the late battle where he was not obliged to 
go, from that time on he never failed to have a large 


audience when he officiated as preacher. As the boys 
expressed it: "That chaplain practices what he preaches. 
He tells us what we should do, and goes with us to the very 
front to help us in battle." 

The loss in both regiments in the Chancellorsville cam- 
paign was about 90 killed and wounded, of which the fol- 
lowing are known to me of the First Regiment: 

Co. B— Wounded: Sergt. Thomas Smith, Charles H. 
Thompson, Mathew Morgan, Joseph Marr, William M. 
Fitzgerald, James H. Byers— 6. 

Co. C— Killed: Lieut. Byron Brewer, Sergt. John G. S. 
Evans, Corp. Henry A. Hood, Privates W. S. Parker, John 
Price, Harmon J. Wise. Wounded: Capt. James H. Baker, 
left breast, slight; Sergt. E. A. Wilson, hand, slight; Sergt. 
Porter W. Barker, hip, leg amputated, mortal; Corp. E. J. 
Southworth, left side ; Corp. Leonard Bissel, abdomen, mor- 
tal; Corp. Dexter Field, leg and hip; Privates James I. Van- 
derburg, side, mortal; Henry A.Gilchrist, foot; R. S. Mc- 
Cain, upper arm; Stiles H. Wirts, leg; Fred. Jarvis, arm; 
James Dillabaugh, shoulder; George R. Brown, Charles H. 
Johnson. Missing: Martin J. W T atson, slightly wounded; 
Joshua Robinson — 22. 

Co. E— Killed: Daniel Morse, Jr. Wounded : Edwin J. 
Peaslee, Alfred A. Rollins— 3. 

Co. F — Wounded: Edward Trask, Almon D. Griffin, 
Michael Cunningham, Jacob S. Bailey, E. M. Hosmer, Mar- 
tin C. Laffie, John Monahan— 7. 

Co. G— Wounded: Capt. F. E. Marble, knee, slight; 
Sergt. John D. Lemmon, finger, slight ; Corp. William Bab- 
cock, hip, slight; Corp. Albert S. Isham, knee, severe; Pri- 
vates, Michael Costello, arm, severe; George T. Cottrell, 
neck and shoulder, severe; H. B. Denniston, arm, severe; 
Frank Meyer, hand, severe; Martin H. Wiltse, arm, severe; 
Abner Johnson, face, slight; William H.Woodruff, forehead, 
slight— 11. 


1 Co. I— Killed : Martin L. Wetmore, William E. Close, 
Alvin Smith. Wounded: Capt. James F. Covel, neck; 
Jeremiah Brandon, left shoulder; Albert G. Austin, cheek, 
slight; Dwight Ford, abdomen, mortal; Daniel McAr- 
thur— 8. 

Co. K— Wounded: Walter J. Christy, left lung, mor- 

Having recrossed the Rappahannock the troops pro- 
ceeded to their respective camps through rain and mud; and 
notwithstanding the prevailing disappointment — to put it 
mildly— at the result of their hard efforts on the late field of 
action, the opportunity to rail at one another jestingly, was 
not neglected. For no matter how weary and dejected the 
boys were, there were some always ready to revive their 
drooping spirits in this cheery manner. As one body of 
troops passed another resting, the uproarious greetings and 
bantering expressions would be sure to come. "There's 
another played out set! Go lay down in the mud, will you?" 
comes from the marchers, to be retaliated thus : "Oh, 3'ou're 
pretty fellows to be falling back; " to be replied from the 
column: "Turn out the provost-guard and pick up these 
stragglers;" when another mouther would sing back: 
"There goes the home guard, emancipate them — send them to 
their mammy — give them some soft bread — black your shoes — 
boil your shirt," etc. So, it continued along the line of march 
back to camp. 

Loud cheers were frequently given when some particular 
regiment or brigade passed by. Especially when, while rest- 
ing on the roadside for coffee, the 1st corps came along with 
the "full moon " on its banners, and as the great Western or 
Iron Brigade passed, looking like giants with their tall black 
hats, they were greeted with hearty cheers by the Sharp- 
shooters. And giants they were, in action. Yet, how vain 
to boast, for cold lead brought down the best of men, and of 


that entire brigade in all its just pride and "fierce panoply 
of war," but a few weeks were destined to pass, before their 
decimated ranks proved too truthfully that even they, were 
not invulnerable. With a large proportion of that Iron 
Brigade they were soon to start on their last war-path, soon 
to lose their greatest strength to become a crippled and 
weakened battalion. When I look back and see that famed 
body of troops marching up that long muddy hill unmind- 
ful of the pouring rain, but full of life and spirit, with steady 
step, filling the entire roadway, their big black hats and 
feathers conspicuous ; and remember how soon they were to 
be swept away by bullets and shell; the pride of looking 
upon a model American volunteer, which they so truly rep- 
resented, turns now to utter sadness, at what hard fate 
befell them in the next battle. 

Falling in, soon after, Berdan's brigade pushed on to 
their old camp at Falmouth, where they arrived before dark 
worn out with fatigue, and considerably downcast at the 
unfavorable result of the late movement. But although 
affairs looked gloomy for awhile, yet did the troops soon 
regain their old-time lively spirits, — for the Boys in Blue 
couldn't mope long, — and, as the days passed by, were pre- 
paring themselves for another move on the enemy's lines, 
including drill and reviews, with the usual picket duty 
when their turn came — often miles away. 

Soon after returning from the field, Gen. Hooker issued 
the following congratulator\- address to the troops, which 
as a recognition of their services at the front was accepta- 
ble, but it had little effect in changing their views of the late 
campaign. For, between Fredericksburg and Chancellors- 
ville they had little to praise. It was all hard knocks for 
them, piling up losses, with the Union cause so much the 
worse for it — through no fault of the soldiers. In fact, but 
for their patriotic spirit, demoralization must have fol- 


lowed. But they had no thought of giving up; all they 
wanted was to be led to victory— reverses had come too 

General Orders. Headquarters Army ofthe Potomac, 
No. 49. Camp near Falmouth, Va., May 6, 1863. 

The major-general commanding tenders to this army 
his congratulations on the achievements of the last seven 
days. If it has not accomplished all that was expected, the 
reasons are well known to the army. It is sufficient to say 
that they were of a character not to be foreseen or prevented 
by human sagacity or resource. In withdrawing from the 
south bank ofthe Rappahannock before delivering a general 
battle to our adversaries, the army has given renewed evi- 
dence of its confidence in itself and its fidelity to the princi- 
ples it represents. In fighting at a disadvantage, we would 
have been recreant to our trust, to ourselves, our cause, and 
our country. Profoundly loyal, and conscious of its 
strength, the Army ofthe Potomac will give or decline bat- 
tle whenever its interest or honor may demand. It will also 
be the guardian of its own history and its own fame. By 
our celerity and secrecy of movement, our advance and pas- 
sage ofthe rivers were undisputed, and on our withdrawal 
not a rebel ventured to follow. The events of the last week 
may well swell with pride the heart of every officer and sol- 
dier of this army. We have added new luster to its former 
renown. We have made long marches, crossed rivers, sur- 
prised the enemy in his intrenchments, and whenever we 
have fought have inflicted heavier blows than we have 
received. We have taken from the enemy 5,000 prisoners; 
captured and brought off seven pieces of artillery, fifteen 
colors; placed hors de combat 18,000 of his chosen troops; 
destroyed his depots filled with vast amounts of stores; 
deranged hiscommunications; captured prisoners within the 
fortifications of his capitol, and filled his country with fear 
and consternation. We have no other regret than that 
caused by the loss of our brave companions, and in this we 
are consoled b} r the conviction that they have fallen in the 
holiest cause ever submitted to the arbitrament of battle. 
By command of Major-Gen. Hooker. 

S. Williams, Asst. Adjt.-Gen. 


It soon became evident they were not to remain in camp 
long, and expected to march forth much, sooner than they 
did. In the meantime, Gen. Hooker was kept busy, as the 
enemy were known to be moving away from Fredericksburg, 
although a force still remained there, well fortified on the 
hills and capable of making a stout fight if attacked, as was 
ascertained by troops from the6th corps, which had crossed 
over, below town, early in June. In course of time, assured 
by his scouts— particularly through Pleasanton's cavalry, 
who had successfully engaged the enemy's cavalr}' at several 
points, capturing some prisoners — that Lee was on the 
march up river, concentrating at Culpeper with the bulk of 
his troops, Gen. Hooker says: 

"Learning that the enemy had massed his cavalry near 
Culpeper for the purpose of a raid, I dispatched Gen. Pleas- 
anton to attack him on his own ground. Gen. Pleasanton 
crossed the Rappahannock June 9th at Beverly and Kelly's 
Fords, attacked the enemy, and drove him three miles, cap- 
turing over 200 prisoners and one battle-flag. This in the 
face of vastly superior numbers, was only accomplished by 
hard and desperate fighting by our cavalry, for which they 
deserve much credit. Their morale is splendid. They made 
many hand-to-hand combats, always driving the enemy 
before them." 

He was now anxious to make a dash on the Fredericks- 
burg column, cut it off, and advance rapidly on Richmond. 
But to this plan the authorities at Washington objected, as 
Lee was evidently working northward through the Shenan- 
doah region, menacing Washington again. In a telegram 
to Hooker on the subject, President Lincoln said: 

"In case you find Lee coming to the north of the Rap- 
pahannock, I would by no means cross to the south oi it. 
If he should leave a rear force at Fredericksburg, tempting 
you to fall upon it, it would fight in intrenchments and have 
you at disadvantage, and so, man for man, worst you at 
that point, while his main force would in some way be get- 


ting an advantage of you northward. In one word, I would 
not take any risk of being entangled upon the river, like an 
ox jumped half over a fence and liable to be torn by dogs 
front and rear, without a fair chance to gore one way or 
kick the other." 

Another time he telegraphed: "If left to me, I would 
not go south of Rappahannock upon Lee's moving north of 
it. If you had Richmond invested to-day, you would not 
be able to take it in 20 days; meanwhile your communica- 
tions, and with them your army, would be ruined. I think 
Lee's army, and not Richmond, is your sure objective point. 
If he comes towards the Upper Potomac, follow on his flank 
and on his inside track, shortening your lines while he 
lengthens his. Fight him, too, when opportunity offers. If 
he stays where he is, fret him and fret him." 

There was evidently "music in the air" — grim-visaged 
music — and the soldiers were quick to realize it. The quiet 
of the camp was not to last long. Nor did they have long 
to wait when the month of June came, especially after 
orders came to send the sick and disabled away. None were 
wanted who were not fully able to march; such ones, unfit 
for duty, were sent to the Potomac Creek hospital, where a 
large number of sick and wounded were being cared for, to 
be removed north by train to steamer on the l-ith,the army 
having mostly left. 




On the 11th of June, participating in the general move- 
ment of the army, the Sharpshooters broke camp, having 
been under marching orders several days. The two regi- 
ments were now assigned to Ward's 2d brigade of Birney's 
1st division of the 3d corps; the 3d division having been 
consolidated with the 1st and 2d. Moving northward, for 
miles could their lines be traced by the clouds of dust that 
enveloped them, many to meet a soldier's death — face to the 
front. On the 12th, after marching 25 miles, they 
bivouacked for a day, Company A being detailed for outpost 
duty, watching the enemy who appeared in force on the left 
bank of the Rappahannock. Thence pressing hurriedly on 
via Catlett's Station, they reached the dry and parched 
plains of Manassas on or about the 15th, suffering greatly 
from the effects of the sun's heat, causing at times sunstroke 
and debilitation. It was reported that more than 200 mem- 
bers of the 3d corps were sunstruck. Water being scarce, 
also added to their troubles; for while on a hot march it 
could be drank too freely to their injury, yet was it a great 
and necessary relief, when used in moderation. By the time 
they halted near Fairfax and Centrcville, the troops were in 
need of rest after their hurried and exhaustive march. About 

in Tin; akmv of Tin-: POTOMAC. 283 

this time, June 17th, Pleasanton's cavalry had another 
brush with the enemy, at Aldie, of which that good general 
reported : 

"I have driven Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry from this place, 
and they are going oft' in the direction of Snicker's Gap; 
nine commissioned officers and 54 privates have been cap- 
tured in a charge, and their killed and wounded is very 
large. They also lost heavily in horses and arms. They 
opened four guns. I had only Gregg's division up at the 
time, and Kilpatrick's brigade did the fighting. * * * 
Among the prisoners taken was a company of sharpshoot- 
ers, which accompany each brigade of their cavalry. These 
men are thrown out as skirmishers, to pick off" our 

For several days thereafter, our cavalry were kept busy 
fighting and driving those of the enemy near Middleburg 
and Upperville, inflicting considerable loss, suffering also 
themselves; in which attacks they were assisted by Barnes' 
division of the 5th corps. Our cavalry fought bravely, mak- 
ing some important captures. Gen. Hooker was proud of 
them, taking great pains to make efficient this important 
arm of the service, as he also did with all others. He was a 
grand officer in this respect. He loved good soldiers, and 
believed he had them. The most important feature of these 
dashes, was to discover if possible where Lee was. Our 
troops had been hurrying north under the supposition that 
the enemy were doing the same, but whether to repeat the 
experiment of offering battle east of the Blue Ridge and 
close to Washington, or to cross the Upper Potomac as in 
the Maryland campaign, and raid the northern states, was 
what Gen. Hooker was endeavoring to find out. Gen. 
Pleasanton, however, assured him that "no rebel infantry 
was this side of the Blue Ridge; "also that their camps 
"two miles long" had been seen on the Shenandoah. So 
that it soon became apparent that a bold invasion on free 
soil was their purpose, and he at once prepared to meet it. 


The army was again put in motion, the different corps being 
pushed forward to different points from time to time — grad- 
ually feeling his way. 

The 3d corps moving on the 9th to Gum Spring, rested 
in that vicinity until the 25th, when they marched to 
Edward's Ferry that day, — said to be over 30 miles,— where 
they forded the Potomac, crossing into Maryland near the 
mouth of the Monocacy. Then proceeding via Point of 
Rocks on the 26th, they marched to Middletown the next 
day. On the 28th they crossed the Cacoctin mountain 
range at Turner's Gap, halting near Woodsborough. On 
this day Gen. Hooker surprised the army by resigning his 
command, and Gen. Meade was appointed by the President 
to take his place. Hooker was dissatisfied with the refusal 
of the general-in-chief at Washington, to allow him to con- 
trol certain bodies of troops, particularly to abandon 
Harper's Ferry and reinforce the army with the troops in 
that locality, about 10,000 in number. He had visited that 
post and concluded — as others had before and after — that it 
was a useless appendage to the military situation, that 
Lee's army could go back and forth without regard to it, 
and if they wished could easily capture the place, as they did 
before. Therefore when met with a decided refusal to call 
off those troops, he sent in his resignation, which was im- 
mediately accepted. Here is what he said to Halleck, dated 
June 27, 1863: 

"I have received your telegram in regard to Harper's 
Ferry. I find 10,000 men here, in condition to take the field. 
Here they are of no earthly account. They cannot defend a 
ford of the river, and, as far as Harper's Ferry is concerned, 
there is nothing of it. As for the fortifications, the work of 
the troops, they remain when the troops are withdrawn. 
No enemy will ever take possession of them for them. This 
is my opinion. All the public property could have been 
secured to-night, and the troops marched to where they 


could have been of some service. Now they arc but a bait 
for the rebels, should they return." 

This was followed by another dispatch— his resigna- 
tion : 

"My original instructions require me to cover Harper's 
Ferry and Washington. I have now imposed upon me, in 
addition, an enemy in my front of more than my number. I 
beg to be understood, respectfully, but firmly, that I am 
unable to comply with this condition with the means at my 
disposal, and earnestly request that I may at once be 
relieved from the position I occupy." 

Notwithstanding Halleck wouldn't let Hooker have his 
own way about Harper's Ferry, he gave Meade full 
authority to use his own judgment in the matter, and to act 
accordingly. The appointment of Gen. Meade was a sur- 
prise both to himself and to the army. For the soldiers at 
that time would hardly have chosen him in preference to 
Slocum, Hancock, Sickles or Reynolds. But they became 
better acquainted before the war closed, as Gen. Meade 
proved to be the last commander of the Army of the 

On the 29th after a march of some 20 miles, the 3d corps 
reached Taneytown, and on the following day they camped 
over night at Bridgeport near Emmitsburg. The next 
morning heavy firing was heard at a distance— 10 miles 
away— beyond the Maryland border, warning them thatthe 
enemy had been found, that a battle was in progress, and 
that afternoon they pushed towards it on a forced march, 
often at double-quick, over a horribly muddy and tiresome 
road, difficult to travel — away into Pennsylvania. 




The battle of Gettysburg opened unexpectedly at half 
past nine in the morning of July 1st, by the advance of 
Heth's division of the enemy along the Cashtown road, 
northwest of town, where our cavalry under Buford met 
them and stubbornly resisted their progress, throwing their 
advance in confusion, holding the force in check until our 
infantry could get up, yet some three miles distant. The 
cavalry were dismounted and used as infantry, thus deceiv- 
ing the enemy, while our batteries were managed with great 
effect. Gallantly did they maintain the unequal contest 
against the accumulating lines now hurrying forward, 
almost enveloping them. Gen. Reynolds commanding the 
right wing consisting of the 1st, 3d and 11th corps, on hear- 
ing the firing hurried ahead of his troops and quickly taking 
in the situation, urgently appealed to the hard-pressed cav- 
ahry to hold on a short time longer, until the infantry which 
were hurrying on, arrived; when he proceeded to make dis- 
positions for them— directing their course and placing them 
in position — and while so engaged, to the great loss to his 
country, and sorrow of the entire army, this grand officerin 
less than 30 minutes after his appearance at the front, was 
killed by a shot through his head. Thus fell one of the 
noblest spirits engaged in the Union cause, whose ability to 
command placed him among the foremost in the army. The 
Wisconsin company of Sharpshooters and the Michigan 
Company C had additional reason to regret his fall, for it 
was as before said this general, while we were serving with 
his command at Mechanicsville, who saved these companies 
from capture if not destruction, by personally coming to 


them to the front and warning them to immediately retire. 
From his position in the rear, as his brigade was moving 
away, discovering the isolated position of the Sharpshoot- 
ers and Bucktails, without hesitation, his staff being gone, 
he rode forward and saved them— taking all personal risks 
to save his troops. What more unselfish spirit than his, 
could be found? And it was where he might have been 
expected to be killed— on the front line. 

The advance of the 1st corps, Gen. Wadsworth's division, 
came running up at ten o'clock. Cutler's brigade leading, 
hurried over the fields, going in on the Cashtown road with 
the 2d Maine battery on their right, three-fourths of a mile 
northwest from town, where warm work was in store for 
them — the enemy close up and the fighting desperate. 

While this was going on, the Iron Brigade (Meredith's) 
the 2d Wisconsin leading, immediately formed in line of bat- 
tle to the left of Cutler's force, and in front of the cavalry 
which had fallen back to their artillery west of town. 
Advancing over the open field a short distance to a rise of 
ground, they met with a terrible reception, the enemy 
(Heth's division of Hill's corps) pouring in a deadly volley 
at short range, cutting down the regiment to a fearful 
extent, killing and wounding 30 .per cent., among them 
Lieut. -Col. George H. Stevens, who was shot in the groin 
and mortally wounded. Changing direction, the regiment 
moved rapidly into a piece of woods to the right, where the y 
met a strong force sending into them the bullets thick and 
rapid — leaden bees humming by. With the men falling at 
every step, they pressed forward with death- scorning valor 
and, gallantly charging, the rebel lines were broken by the 
Black Hats, who captured a large number of prisoners 
including their commander, Gen. Archer. The 7th Wisconsin, 
24th Michigan and 19th Indiana having come up on their 
left, assisted in this charge, and between them 1,000 pris- 


288 sharpshootixg and skirmishing 

oners were taken. In the meantime Col. Fairchild lost an 
arm, when the command of the 2d devolved upon Major 
John Mansfield. 

Cutler's brigade meanwhile was severely engaged on the 
Cashtown road. It was at this point that Gen. Reynolds 
fell. Now, owing to the approach of two lines of battle in 
their front, lapping their right flank, they were obliged to 
fall back to the woods on the ridge behind them. The bat- 
tery and the 147th New York falling back later, were badly 
cut up, the 147th losing 207 out of 380, during the space cf 
30 minutes; while the artillery being left for a time unsup- 
ported, the commander, Capt. Hall, after using his canister 
with good effect on the charging column, retired his battery 
by sections ; one gun having four horses shot was drawn off 
by hand, and another piece left behind was afterwards 
recovered. At this critical moment the 6th Wisconsin, 
which had been held in reserve, was ordered to the right to 
repulse the attempt of the enemy to get in rear of our 
troops, and successfully did so in a desperate charge in con- 
junction with the 14th Brooklyn and 95th New York, where 
they captured in a railroad cut the 2d Mississippi in the face 
of a destructive fire. In this charge, the 6th lost 160 men — 
a startling example of the character of the fighting that 
day. More hard fighting ensued, in which the 1st division 
was alone engaged for nearly two hours before the balance 
of the corps came up and got into line. 

Rowley's division (3d) was divided, Biddle's brigade 
taking the extreme left, facing open ground and grain fields, 
with a piece of woods opposite, 1,000 yards off, held by 
rebel infantry. Remaining in position about three hours 
exposed to artillery fire and that of a skirmish line in their 
front, they were severely attacked by a division in line com- 
ing from the woods directly on to them. They held their 
ground for upwards of an hour, when flanked on the left 
along with the heavy fire in front, were obliged to give way. 


Coming out of this contest with less than 390 out of 1,287 
engaged, shows how well they sustained their part. Two 
companies of skirmishers from the 20th New York militia, 
which had been sent out in the morning to some buildings 
200 yards in front to contend with the rebel sharpshooters, 
which they held several hours, fighting hard, until almost 
surrounded by the advancing forces, with the buildings on 
•fire, narrowly escaped capture but succeeded in getting 

Stone's Pennsylvania brigade was sent into an opening 
between Meredith and Cutler upon the low ridge in front of 
Seminary Ridge, enacting a most important part thereafter, 
repeatedly repulsing the enemy and holding their position 
until the whole line retired. In this sharp contest Col. Stone 
was wounded, as also Col. Wister who succeeded him in 
command. Roy Stone was complimented by officers and 
men for the intrepid and skillful manner in which he handled 
his brigade on the most trying occasions, changing their 
formations under the hottest fire to meet emergencies. His 
ability was unquestioned — a feature that was early devel- 
oped in the war, when in command of the Bucktails on the 
Seven Days. 

No language can do justice to the conduct of my officers 
and men on the bloody "first day;" to the coolness with 
which they watched and awaited, under a fierce storm of 
shot and shell, the approach of the enemy's overwhelming 
masses; their ready obedience to orders, and the prompt 
and perfect execution, under fire, of all the tactics of the 
battle field; to the fierceness of their repeated attacks, or to 
the desperate tenacity of their resistance. They fought as if 
each man felt that upon his own arm hung the fate of the 
day and the nation. Every field officer save one was 
wounded and disabled. Col. Wister, while commanding the 
brigade, though badly wounded in the mouth and unable to 
speak, remained in the front of the battle, as did also Lieut. - 
Col. Huidekoper, commanding 150th, with his right arm 


shattered and a wound in the leg; and Lieut. -Col. Dwight, 
commanding 149th, with a dangerous gun-shot wound 
through the thigh. — Roy Stone. 

The 2d division (Robinson's) was also separated for a 
time, the 1st brigade being held in reserve near the seminary, 
buildingbarricades; Baxter's (2d) brigade advancingalmost 
immediately to the right of the 1st division, with a wide 
gap between them and the 11th corps men who had come 
into action still farther to the right, with cavalry on the 
flank. Later on, the 1st brigade was brought up and went 
in. Before this, Baxter's troops were twice flanked in their 
exposed position, making several changes to meet the at- 
tack, repulsing the enemy each time; finally making a deter- 
mined charge, capturing many of the Johnnies with three of 
their flags; when after two hours' hard fighting, suffering 
much, gecting short of cartridges, this brigade was with- 
drawn and supported a battery. The division was engaged 
more or less at this point, four hours. 

Xo soldiers ever fought better, or inflicted severer blows 
upon the enemy. When out of ammunition, their boxes 
were replenished from those of their killed and wounded 
comrades.— Gen. Robinson. 

Gen. Paul, in command of the 1st brigade, was shot 
down severely wounded, as were the three colonels succeed- 
ing him : Leonard (13th Mass.), Root (94th N. Y.), and 
Coulter (11th Penn.) This division lost 1,543 enlisted men 
and 124 officers, out of a total of less than 2,500. This com- 
mand, with many others that day, suffered greatly while 
falling back beyond Gettysburg, from both artillery and mus- 
ketry. For nearly four hours did a portion of the 1st corps 
hold the field before the 11th arrived; two divisions of 
which finally joined the 1st on the right, the Confederates in 
their front being the forces of Gen. Ewell— the left wing of 
the rebel armv. 


The 1st and 3d divisions of the 11th corps under com- 
mand of Gen. Schurz, got into position about two p. m. 
north of town, a considerable distance away from the 1st 
corps line, the 1st division being on the right. This latter 
division under Gen. Barlow having advanced their line, was 
subjected to severe cannonading, while a heavy force of in- 
fantry came down on to them out of the woods in a long 
line of battle overlapping the extreme right, doubling it up 
in bad shape, causing the men to break away. At this time 
the accomplished Gen. Barlow went down 'mid a "shower 
of shells" seriously wounded, and was succeeded in com- 
mand by Gen. Ames. There were too many intervals on 
this part of the field, the enemy rushing into them to our 
ultimate discomfit. We hadn't troops enough to go 
around the lengthy semi-circle, they had too many for a 
fair fight. Their artillery was continually at work bursting 
shells among our troops with more or less serious effect. 
According to Gen. Schurz, two of these batteries on a hill- 
side opposite the 3d division opened on them fiercely, at the 
same time enfilading the 1st corps. Dilger's battery (I, 1st 
Ohio) dismounted four of their guns, scattering two rebel 
regiments below the hill. Capt. Dilger lost during the day 
14 men and 24 horses. The loss of the 11th corps has been 
estimated at 3,000, many of whom were taken prisoners; 
some of the regiments were badly cut up. Being finally out- 
flanked, about four o'clock the corps was ordered by Gen. 
Howard, who arrived at Gettysburg in the forenoon and 
assumed command on hearing of the fall of Reynolds, to re- 
tire from their advanced position to a new line he had estab- 
lished south of town, on another conspicuous height called 
Cemetery Hill. 

The 3d division had meanwhile to sustain a furious at- 
tack. According to orders it fell back towards the town in 
good order, contesting the ground step by step with the 
greatest firmness. In this part of the action, which was 


almost a hand-to-hand struggle, officers and men showed 
the highest courage and determination. Our loss was ex- 
tremely heavy. The 2d brigade, 3d division, lost all its reg- 
imental commanders; several regiments nearly half their 
number in killed and wounded. Being flanked right and 
left, the situation of that division was most trying. — Carl 

Capt. Heckman's battery (K, 1st Ohio) had a short but 
hard experience, having gone forward at the last moment 
east of town to check the enemy while the corps was coming 
out, and was almost immediately confronting a sharp 
attack which he resisted for a half hour, sending into their 
ranks 113 rounds of canister, when the yelling foes rushed 
through the dense smoke on to his guns, despite his rapid 
discharges; in the confusion ensuing he succeeded in getting 
away with the loss of one gun, 13 men and nine horses. 

That portion of the 11th corps posted beyond the alms- 
house had fought with great obstinacy until its right flank 
was turned by Early's division, and further reinforcements 
had been hopeless. It then fell back to the town, and choked 
up the main street at the very time Paul's brigade was at- 
tempting to pass. This resulted in heavy loss to the brigade. 
—Gen. Doubleday, commanding 1st corps. 

On the left, the line had previously been ordered back to 
Seminary Ridge where a stand was made. The 2d Wiscon- 
sin in retiring, turned once upon the enemy and became 
nearly flanked by tbem on their left, their sanguine oppo- 
nents rushing up in overwhelming numbers. Occupying the 
new line at the ridge another hard contest ensued, the 
enemy crowding in close. Major Mansfield was now 
wounded in the knee, and obliged to leave the field, Capt. 
Otis assuming command of the regiment. Biddle's and 
Meredith's brigades, aided by Cooper's 1st Pennsylvania 
and Stevens' 5th Maine batteries, held the ridge until the 
last possible moment, covering the retirement of the rest of 
the 1st corps. At this point a South Carolina brigade lost 


500 in the assault, the 1st and 14th rebel regiments from 
that state losing more than half their number. 

The shattered remnants of the Iron Brigade also fell 
into line. From behind the feeble barricade of rails these 
brave men stemmed the fierce tide which pressed upon them 
incessantly, and held the rebel lines, which encircled them on 
three sides, at bay until a greater portion of the corps had 
retired. * * * Capt. Hollon Richardson, acting assistant 
inspector-general, of Meredith's staff, rode up and down the 
lines, waving a regimental flag, encouraging the men to do 
their duty. The troops, with the assistance of a part of 
Stewart's battery, under Lieut. Davison, poured in ro 
deadly a fire as to wholly break up and double the first line 
of the enemy approaching from the west; but the other 
lines pressed on, and soon commenced a liank attack, which 
it was no longer possible to answer. When all the troops 
at this point were overpowered, Capt. Glenn (149th Penn.) 
in command of my headquarter guard, defended the build- 
ing for fully 20 minutes against a whole brigade of the 
enemy, enabling the few remaining troops, the ambulances, 
artillery, etc., to retreat in comparative safety. The bat- 
teries had all been brought back from their advanced posi- 
tion and posted on Seminary Hill. They greatly assisted 
the orderly retreat, retarding the enemy by their fire. They 
lost heavily in men and horses at this point, and, as they 
retired to the town, were subjected to so heavy a fire that 
the last gun was left, the horses being all shot down by the 
enemy's skirmishers, who had formed line within 50 yards 
of the road by which the artillery was obliged to pass. — 


Col. Wainwright, commanding the brigade artillery of 
the 1st corps, claimed a loss of 80 officers and men and 80 
horses during the day, a large proportion of the latter shot 
while falling back from Seminary Ridge to Gettysburg. The 
infantry also suffered considerably in their movement 
towards town, particularly so the 7th Wisconsin which 
brought up the rear. Col. Robinson says: "It was here I 
met with the heaviest losses from the regiment during the 


day." Col. Robinson assumed command of the Iron Bri- 
gade after their arrival at the cemeter}' b}' order of Gen. 
Wadsworth, occasioned by Gen. Meredith having "sus- 
tained severe injuries by the fall of his wounded horse." 
This officer did not return to the brigade. 

Surely the people of Gettysburg that da}' had an oppor- 
tunity to learn something about war. A great battle had 
unexpectedly surrounded them in their peaceful homes, even 
to their very doors, and on all sides could be heard the noise 
and fury of mortal strife. The burning houses, the shat- 
tered trees and splintered fences— limbs and rails flying 
about — horses and cattle wild with fright, the people dis- 
tracted; such was the effect of this sudden, unwelcome rebel 
visitation. The excitement was up to the highest possible 
pitch ; born of hope in the morning when they saw their 
defenders go forth, with the cheers of the populace and their 
prayers following them ; full of dread and despair in the 
evening when the invader came to make them prisoners. If 
ever a town was "painted red" it was Gettysburg — the 
dead and wounded lying about the streets, in houses, gar- 
dens and fields. A gory picture of patriotic valor. The fall- 
ing back of the 1st and 11th corps through the town occa- 
sioned the greatest excitement and confusion, and proved a 
dangerous undertaking; the troops becoming mixed up, 
crowding through, eventually got to their proper commands 
after leaving the place. The enemy entered the town as the 
last of our men were leaving it, thus adding to the terror of 
the affrighted citizens. The bustle and hurry of our soldiers, 
the firing of shots by the rebels, the din and confusion, the 
smoking muskets, the yelling Johnnies, the shouting Yanks, 
and the general uproar; all served to make the 1st of July a 
day the oldest inhabitants would never forget, and future 
generations w T ill ever refer to. 

A considerable number of our soldiers were captured in 
town and a good many killed, particularly among the 


troops covering the rear. Among these was the 45th New- 
York of the 11th corps. Col. Dobke thus describes the 
awful scene: 

"In a short time all sorts of missiles found their way 
through houses, fences, and gardens, and it was evident that 
to stay much longer would be certain destruction, so the 
regiment was ordered to follow the column which had 
passed, when, marching a few blocks, suddenly a few regi- 
ments of the 1st corps were thrown in the way, and our regi- 
ment headed to the left to gain the other main streets. 
When about the middle of the square, a sudden panic arose 
in a column on the street we were to gain, throwing them- 
selves in our column and into the houses. Not to become 
mixed up, the 45th turned again to the street just left, 
marched two squares down, and turned again to the left lor 
the before mentioned roads. About the middle of the block 
our column was received by the enemy's infantry fire, when 
the column headed into an alley leading to the direction we 
had to follow. Unfortunately this alley led into a spacious 
yard surrounded by large buildings, which only offered an 
entrance but no way to pass out, excepting a very narrow 
doorway, to freedom and to heaven; but the enemy's sharp- 
shooters had already piled a barricade of dead Union 
soldiers in the street in front of this doorway. About 100 
of the 45th extricated themselves from this trap, ran the 
gauntlet, and arrived safely at the graveyard. The 
remainder were taken prisoners, as meanwhile the whole 
town was surrendered and the enemy in possession of 
Gettysburg. Only one-third of the equipped men of the 45th 
assembled at the cemetery behind the stone fence, and two- 
thirds of the regiment were lost." 

Capt. James D. Wood, assistant adjutant-general on 
Meredith's staff, was the last man on horseback to pass 
through the town, after making every effort to keep the 
ranks closed up in the different columns, to prevent con- 
fusion. On getting away himself, while in the open field, his 
horse was killed under him, receiving six distinct wounds. 
Capt. Wood also performed important service at the front 


during the day, in his position as aid to Gen. Meredith and 
Col. Robinson. 

The losses in the Iron Brigade in this day's fight were of 
the most serious character, suffering severely in officers and 
men. In the 2d Wisconsin all the field officers were shot, 
with 14 of the line among the killed, wounded and missing. 
Out of a total of 302 engaged, their loss was 233, or 75 
per cent., leaving 69 for duty. In the 24th Michigan the 
three field officers were also badly wounded, one staff and 18 
line officers among the killed and wounded, and three taken 
prisoners ; while 294 enlisted men fell, with a number miss- 
ing—or 363 out of a total of 496. The 19th Indiana lost 
210 out of 288, leaving 78 for duty. The loss of the 7th 
Wisconsin was 178. The total loss of this brigade during 
the entire battle, principally on the first day — their casual- 
ties thereafter being very few — was 1,153; and with, the 
other brigades of Wads worth's 1st division 2, L55 ; Robin- 
son's 2d division 1,690; Rowley's 3d division 2,103; artil- 
lery 106; making a total including staff and cavalry of 
6,059. Of 8,200 in action July 1st, the 1st corps was 
reduced to 2,450— a net loss of 5,750. 

Gen. Doubleday in his report of this day's fight, says: 
" The 2d Wisconsin in this contest, under the gallant Col. 
Fairchild, was particularly distinguished. It accomplished 
the difficult task of driving superior numbers of rebel 
infantry from the shelter of the woods, and to it also 
belongs the honor of capturing Gen. Archer himself. He was 
brought in by Patrick Maloney, of Company G. It is to be 
lamented that this brave Irishman was subsequently killed 
in the action." 

But for this worthy feat of Private Maloney capturing 
the rebel general, it would never have been known in public 
history that he was killed in the battle, as but few enlisted 
men were ever mentioned. One brave act oft gives wide 



Gen. Doubleday also tells about John Burns, an aged 
citizen of Gettysburg, over 70 years, who shouldering a mus- 
ket offered his services to Col. Wister (150th Penn.) who 
advised him to fight in the woods where there was more 
shelter, but the game old patriot preferred the skirmish line 
in the open field. He afterwards fought with the Iron Bri- 
gade and was wounded three times. 

He was the fellow who won renown, — 

The only man who chd n't back down 

When the rebels rode through his native town. 

He wore a broad-brimmed, bell-crowned hat, 
White as the locks on which it sat. 

Close at his elbows all that day, 

Veterans of the Peninsula, 

Sunburnt and bearded, charged away. 

While Burns, unmindful of jeer and scoff, 

Stood there picking the rebels off, — 

With his long brown rifle, and bell-crowned hat. 

And some of the soldiers since declare 
That the gleam of his old white hat afar, 
Like the crested plume of the brave Navarre, 
That day was their oriflamme of war. 

— Bret Harte. 

Col. Morrow (24th Mich.) wounded and taken prisoner 
says : "During the time I was a prisoner I conversed freely 
with distinguished rebel officers in relation to the battle on 
the 1st inst. and, without exception, they spoke in terms of 
admiration of the conduct of our troops, and especially of 
that of the troops composing the 1st army corps. One of 
them informed me that Lieut. -Gen. A. P. Hill said that he 


had never known the Federals to fight so well." And from 
a major on Gen. Hill's staff he was informed that, "the 
rebel army present at Gettysburg was about 90,000 strong, 
and that their line of battle was estimated to be eight 
miles long. The death of Major-Gen. Reynolds was well 
known to the enemy, and the highest opinions of his skill 
and bravery were freely expressed." 

The first day's fight was one of the hardest of the war 
for the number engaged on our side ; the 1st corps going in 
with 8,000 muskets, which from the first onset were 
constantly decreasing, so that probably at least one-third 
that number were lost in action by the time the two corps 
came together ; while the two divisions of the 11th with 
only about 6,000, made in all at no time probably over 
12,000 (if that many) on our side, contending in the battle. 
But one brigade of the 2d div. 11th A. C. which was in 
reserve at Cemetery Hill, came into action, and that only at 
the last moment in support of the artillery, holding the 
enemy for a short time while Barlow's division was coming 
off the field. On the other side, the Confederates were 
constantly bringing forward accumulating troops, at all 
times more than double our force. Gen. Doubleday again: 

"When that part of the 11th corps adjacent to us fell 
back, a force of 30,000 men were thrown upon the 1st 

When the troops commenced falling back, Gen. Buford 
hurried a cavalry brigade over to the left, to check the 
enemy's pursuit, and dismounting them, they made rapid 
and effective use of their carbines, completely breaking up 
the enemy's front line. No cavalry troops ever fought bet- 
ter than did those of Gen. John Buford, and to their honor 
and everlasting glory be it said, by their bold and unflinch- 
ing resistance to the rebel advance during that eventful 
morning assisted by Tidball's U. S. battery, prevented the 
seizing of Cemetery Ridge and its prolongations before our 


infantry came up; which eventually resulted in the glorious 
victory that has made Gettysburg famous among the 
greatest battles of the world. After the infantry came to 
their relief, many of the cavalrymen dismounting, rush- 
ing in with their carbines, fought with the greatest gallantry. 
The entire action from the time the cavalry first started in, 
lasted about 10 hours— an all-day fight. The battle had 
been preciuitated by our cavalry running into their infantry, 
and was continued by our infantry against overwhelming 
odds, until ordered to retire. 

It was not expected by Meade to have a battle there, but 
rather farther to the east on ground he had hoped to occupy, 
before Lee came up. It was too late, however; the die was 
cast, the success or failure of the rebel movement was to be 
decided on the field of Gettysburg, and he probably could 
not have found a better place to settle it. 

This preliminary battle had the most important bearing 
on the results of the next two days, as it enabled the whole 
army to come up and reinforce the admirable position to 
which we had retreated. Had we retired earlier in the day, 
without co-operation with the other parts of the army, the 
enemy by a vigorous pursuit might have penetrated between 
the corps of Sickles and Slocum, and have either crushed 
them in detail or flung them off in eccentric directions. 

* * * There were abundant reasons for holding Gettys- 
burg, for it is the junction of seven great roads leading to 
Hagerstown, Chambersburg, Carlisle, York, Baltimore, 
Taneytown, and Washington, and is also an important 
railway terminus. The places above mentioned are on the 
circumference of a circle of which it is the center. It was 
therefore a strategic point of no ordinary importance. 

* * * There never was an occasion in which the result 
could have been more momentous upon our national destiny. 


Such a disastrous result must have followed its aban- 
donment, had this engagement not been persisted in; 
although, notwithstanding its importance relative to the 


final outcome, coupled with the desperate character of 
the contest, it has been over-shadowed by the still greater 
achievements of the united army. 

Late in the afternoon Gen. Hancock arrived, ordered 
forward by Gen. Meade to assume command of that wing of 
the army, on learning of Reynold's death. Hancock at once 
proceeded to establish his battle line, in connection with 
what had already been done by Howard, along the northern 
edge of Cemetery Hill and its prolongation easterly, thence 
curving to the south and rear to a point called Culp's Hill. 
The enemy approaching from the east side of town towards 
the Baltimore pike, Wadsworth's division of the 1st corps 
with the 5th Maine battery were sent to the eastern 
extremity of the ridge, a wooded sloping height, from the 
crest of which they checked the rebel advance, remaining at 
this point during the remainder of the struggle ; the balance 
of the 1st corps being with the 11th on the hill just south 
of Gettysburg. Meantime, the first division of the 12th 
corps, arriving, was placed to the right on Culp's Hill in 
rear of Wadsworth, fronting Rock Creek close by; while the 
2d division under Geary, coming up later was posted tem- 
porarily by Hancock further south near Little Round Top. 

From this time until morning, other troops were hur- 
rying in ; the 3d corps arriving about dark on the 1st, 
resting for the night behind the lesser Round Top— the 3d 
brigade left at Emmitsburg, coming up next morning. So 
that soon after daylight of the 2d, Meade's line of battle 
was formed with the right fronting Gettysburg, prolonged 
to Culp's Hill, his left extending southerly to the Big and 
Little Round Tops, a distance of three miles, which was 
occupied by the different corps in order following : The 1 2th 
corps on the extreme right (Geary's division having joined), 
1st corps extending to the eastern spur of Cemetery Hill, 
11th corps opposite Gettysburg; thence extending along the 
crest of the rock-ribbed ridges which gradually fell away 


until they approached the rising Round Tops, were the long 
lines of the 2d and 3d corps; and later on, in the afternoon, 
the 5th corps relieved by the 6th in reserve, occupied the 
extreme left. 

The enemy were posted on an opposite range of hills 
extending from Seminary Ridge south ; at a distance of a 
half-mile on the right, varying to a mile and a half towards 
the left — the armies facing each other east and west. The 
frowning heights on either side were crowded with cannon, 
although in many places owing to the rough nature of the 
hills, the Union artillery could not get in position. Between 
these embattled ridges were wooded groves, and a number 
of cleared farms, fields of grain, orchards and gardens — 
destined to be soon laid waste by the tramping of troops 
and the hurtling implements of death and destruction. 

An instance of the general feeling existing among our 
soldiers on meeting the enemy on northern soil is given: 
John W. Coates, formerly first sergeant of Company B, 
transferred to Company I with same rank, and afterwards 
promoted to second and first lieutenant of the latter com- 
pany, took an important part in the battle, he being a 
thorough fighter. During the night of the 1st of July he was 
complimented by Col. Berdan, for his encouraging remarks 
to his company after their arrival on the field, when he said, 
speaking of the enemy: "Boys, we have got them on our 
own ground now, let us give them a good lesson." 


During the fore part of the day, our troops occupied 
the time strengthening their respective positions, particu- 
larly at the weaker points ; barricades being erected in some 
places, and all possible defensive arrangements made for a 
warm reception of the enemy should they deign to attack. 
In the meantime skirmishing was going on in front, with 
the artillery feeling the positions to and fro. 


The 3d corps went into line early in the morning, Gen. 
Birney's division on the left, resting at Little Round Top, 
relieving Geary's command posted there over night; Gen. 
Humphreys' 2d division to the right, connecting with the 
2d corps. At a distance of about a mile in front, the 
Emmitsburg road ran along the crest of a ridge sloping 
easterly to our lines, and westerly towards the enemy con- 
cealed in the woods be3^ond. Six companies of Sharpshoot- 
ers (A, B, C, G, H and K) were deployed in skirmish line 
about eight o'clock in detached positions afar out, under 
Capt. Marble, Winthrop and Baker; Capt. John Wilson 
being detailed acting major or field officer, relative to whom 
Lieut. -Col. Trepp reported: "The regiment was posted 
with instructions to protect the left flank of the 3d corps. 
Soon thereafter the dispositions were changed, and I 
received an order to send 100 men on a reconnoissance in 
front of the right of the corps. This detachment I conducted 
in person, and deployed them. The command was given to 
Capt. John Wilson, a very efficient officer, and I returned to 
the regiment." 

Companies B and G, under the immediate command of 
Capt. Marble, were together in an open field behind a fence, 
200 yards in advance of the Emmitsburg road in the vicin- 
ity of the Rodger House, with the 1st Massachusetts on 
their right, and Company C on their left, at the brick house, 
where they all soon became engaged, the firing being kept 
up without intermission until the middle of the afternoon 
when the action became general, on this part of the line. 
As our scattered force was too small to hazard the attempt 
to skirmish the front, on that part of the field — exposed to 
the destructive fire of evidently overwhelming numbers — 
Col. Berdan reported to Gen. Birneyhis inability to discover 
what force the enemy had ahead of us; stating to both 
Birney and Sickles his belief that they were concentrating 
behind the woods for a demonstration on our extreme left — 


to attack our corps on the flank — and suggested a recon- 
noissance. Gen. Hunt, chief of artillery, being present, was 
of the same opinion, and thought the Sharpshooters should 
be sent over there, to find out what they were doing. They 
were too suspiciously quiet, and evidently bent on mischief. 
Whereupon about noon Gen. Birne\ r , after further consulta- 
tion with Gen. Sickles, ordered the colonel to take a detach- 
ment of 100 Sharpshooters, with the 3d Maine (200 mus- 
kets) as a support, to the extreme left, to reconnoiter the 
enemy's right, and discover if possible his movements. Capt. 
Briscoe of Birney's staff, an excellent officer, was sent out 
with the reconnoissance, also Capt. Nash, of Company K, 
(mounted) who rendered valuable assistance, Col. Berdan 
being in command of the entire force. 

pitzer's run. 

Moving down the Emmitsburg road beyond the Union 
lines, the Sharpshooters deployed through a peach orchard 
northwesterly, past some farm buildings towards a piece of 
woods through which they were to skirmish. Here they met 
a small boy who warned them of the vicinity of the rebels. 
To quote from Comrade Buchanan, referred to later: "As 
we approached these buildings a lad then living there, who 
had just returned from an errand to a neighbor's close b} r , 
seeing our handful of men about to attack a large force of 
rebels concealed here, whom he had seen but a little while 
before as he was returning to his father's house, remarked 
almost with a sneer, in the hearing of several of us ; 'Look 
out! there are lots of rebels in there, in rows' — pointing 
towards the woods. We ridiculed theboy'sremark and dis- 
credited his statement, thinking that he knew nothing 
about war and was talking nonsense. It is now stated 
that the lad, young as he was, had been at Antietam the 
year before, witnessed a part of that battle, and was not, 
consequently, so unsophisticated as we thought him to be. 


At any rate, the words were hardly out of his mouth before 
we advanced rapidly into the woods, and were almost im 
mediately briskly challenged and disputed by the rebel 

They soon struck the enemy's skirmishers, driving them 
under a telling fire 300 yards, when the}' suddenly ran on to 
three columns of infantry, in rear of the woods— on the west 
slope of Seminary Ridge at or near Pitzer's Run — who were 
about making a move towards the Union left. It was a 
trying occasion for our men, but Col. Berdan, riding in 
front of the line, quickly took in the situation, and knowing 
that time gained then was ever3*thing, dispatched Capt. 
Briscoe to our generals, Birney and Sickles, a mile away, to 
warn them of the danger — the threatened assault upon our 
left. He then ordered his men to "advance firing," when 
they attacked the enemy on the flank, throwing them into 
confusion, pushing close up to them and doing great execu- 
tion with their reliable breech-loaders — catching it hot 
meanwhile from the volleys received. The 3d Maine now 
came into line and fought side by side with the Sharp- 

By order of Col. Berdan, I advanced double-quick to the 
line they occupied, and instantly formed my regiment under 
a heavy fire from the enemy.— Col. M. B. Lakeman. 

For awhile our boys held their position, stopping one 
regiment coming up on the right, despite the efforts of their 
mounted commander who fell wounded from his horse, while 
his men were unable to rally. For the time it lasted it was 
a desperate affair for Berdan's command, confronted as 
they were by such overpowering forces, our men falling 
fast ; but there was no shirking, each one firing rapidly to 
ward off as long as possible the inevitable result — retreat or 
destruction. Under the circumstances it could not last long, 
as they soon rallied and made a rush for our little band 


almost surrounding them, attacking them severely, to our 
loss. The action lasted 20 minutes, when Col. Berdan seeing 
the hopelessness of the contest withdrew his command, the 
enemy pursuing a short distance, the 3d Maine giving them 
a couple of parting volleys as reminders of what their gen- 
erals termed : " a most audacious and bold venture." They 
were completely surprised to find so small a force coming so 
far from our main lines to assault them. But our hoys 
showed their ability, as also their agility, to get away, as 
well as to advance. 

The enemy show r ed himself in overwhelming force; but 
so well did we hold our position that his advance was much 
checked and very disastrous, and not until ordered by Col. 
Berdan to fall back, did a single man leave the ranks. — Col. 

Here is another instance of what might have been 
accomplished had Berdan's two regiments in their original 
strength been there. For if 300 men firing 10,000 rounds in 
20 minutes, could stop the forward movement of 30,000 
foes, it is reasonable to suppose that 1,800 Sharps rifles 
would in all probability have broken them up to that 
extent, as to have disarranged all their plans for that day, 
and prevented the desperate assault that followed ; the 
chances being that the Sharpshooters in their combined 
force would have virtually whipped them on their own 
ground. As it was, Gen. Longstreet afterwards admitted 
it delayed them 40 minutes ; whereas if it had only delayed 
them 35 minutes, he says his army would not have been 

" That five minutes saved the day for the Army of the 
Potomac; " and as Little Round Top was onl} r secured by 
Vincent's brigade not a moment too soon to drive the climb- 
ing enemy aw.ay, there is not much exaggeration in that 
statement. "Five minutes " was a good deal then. All the 


generals who went over the historic field at a meeting of 
ex-officers and soldiers 23 years after the battle, declared 
that the spot where Col. Berdan's command attacked Long- 
street was the turning point of the war. Of course there 
will always be a dispute on this point among ex-soldiers. 
The "turning point of the war," and the "high water mark 
of the rebellion," are high-sounding claims over which there 
will always be a disagreement, at least among the living 
participants in this great struggle. But as an impartial 
historian, at least as much so as it is probably possible for 
a Sharpshooter to be, after making due allowance for a 
natural soldierly pride in the gallant deeds of his comrades 
— they that handled the weapons that did the fighting, the 
men of active service — I believe there is very much justifica- 
tion in the claim, backed up as it is by the best military 
authorities, composed of those that were present during the 
conflict, and whose opinions are here given. 

Longstreet especially gives this as his opinion: "If we 
had got around to Round Top we would have held the key 
to the situation and could have cut the Union force in two 
parts, which could not help each other, and then by the force 
of a sweeping charge we could have won the day." 

Gen. Sickles in his Gettysburg oration, testified to the 
invaluable service rendered the Union cause by the Sharp- 
shooters and their supports, the 3d Maine, in the contest at 
Pitzer's Run "where Longstreet was massing his tens of 
thousands, and where Col. Berdan pushing through the 
curtain of woods, hurled his dauntless little band directly 
against the force intended to crush in our left flank and seize 
the Round Tops;" which statement was endorsed by Gen. 
Hunt, present, on his personal knowledge of the circum- 
stances leading to and following the Sharpshooter move- 


In a subsequent speech, Gen. Sickles said: "In 1886 1 
met many Confederate officers at Gettysburg, and in con- 
versation with Gen. Longstreet, asked him what his inten- 
tions were on that day. 

" 'To take possession of Peach Orchard and the ridge,' 
was the reply. 

" ' What prevented your taking that position at once? ' 

" 'Your Sharpshooters, who smoked us out of the woods 
on your flank.' 

" When I asked him what would have been the result of 
his possession of the ridge and peach orchard without 
resistance, he said the Confederates would have won the 
battle of Gettysburg. He also said that when he reached 
the ridge and peach orchard his loss was so great by my 
defence of that position that even with his reinforcements he 
was not strong enough to win." 

Some years ago, during an exhibition at Boston of a 
cyclorama ' of Gettysburg, according to Sergt. Curtis D. 
Drew, of Company E, the position of Berdan's command 
was pointed out as saving the day, that: "Berdan's Sharp- 
shooters fought desperately, and if Berdan had 2,000 more 
men like his Sharpshooters, Longstreet never could have 
driven him a foot, and when Berdan finally retreated, Long- 
street was afraid to follow him up." As the statements 
made by the cycloramic historian are an important part of 
the exhibition, comprising the history of the battle, such 
then must have been the prevailing impression in the East- 
ern states at least, of the value of the service rendered by 
the Sharpshooters at Pitzer's Run — and rightly so. 

It was a very important affair, and the result awaited 
with anxiety by our generals. For the timely suggestion to 
make this reconnoissance, and the gallant manner in which 
the command attacked and discomfited the enemy, holding 
them in check sufficiently long to enable Gen. Sickles to 
anticipate the movement — the capturing of the Round Tops 
— Col. Berdan is entitled to credit, and his command, Sharp- 


shooters and 3d Maine, to all the renown that can be 
accorded to the faithful and brave. Later on in the day, 
Gen. Hancock recognized the importance of this service, as 
being largely instrumental in defeating the enemy's inten- 
tions, while Gen. Birney in his report said : 

"Col. Berdan of the Sharpshooters, and Capt. Briscoe 
of my staff, deserve mention for their services in leading the 
reconnoissance before the battle, and for the valuable 
information derived from it." 

The heroic deeds of Leonidas and his 300 Spartans, 
betrayed and slaughtered by the Persian hosts, has for ages 
been recounted in verse and story. But no greater display 
of heroism, no more self-sacrificing spirit of patriotism can 
be cited in the annals of war, than was this courageous 
attack of Berdan's 300 on the marching columns of 30,000 
foes. And surely, it may be fairly said to be a turning point 
in the Rebellion. 

The Sharpshooter companies engaged in this daring 
attack were D, E, F and I, representing New York, New 
Hampshire, Vermont and Michigan. The enemy were of 
Anderson's division of Hill's corps. The position attained 
where the fight occurred, was the farthest advance of Union 
troops on the field of Gettysburg. 

The loss of the Sharpshooters in this short and san- 
guinary contest numbered 19 ; the 3d Maine, 48. But as 
Col. Lakeman of that regiment has reported that when his 
men advanced into line, they were at a disadvantage as 
they had to take the intervals between the trees occupied by 
the Sharpshooters, it must account for his- greater loss, 
although not so long engaged. 

Of the Confederates, Gen. Wilcox commanding the rebel 
brigade attacked, admitted a loss of 10 killed and 28 
wounded in the 10th Alabama; 18 wounded in the 11th 
Alabama, six or eight severely, including the major (R. J. 
Fletcher); making a total in these two regiments alone of 


56 — how many more, might easily be imagined when it is 
fully understood how our men peppered them in a heap, at 
close quarters. It is known that 40 of their dead lay in one 
small space together, and the one rebel grave at this place 
was afterwards found to be over 100 yards in length. Gen. 
Wilcox speaks of our small force of 300 guns as "two Fed- 
eral regiments," — naturally enough deceived by the immense 
number of shots fired by the breech-loaders, and the length 
of time they were engaged. 

A spirited musketry fight ensued between the 10th Ala- 
bama and these two Federal regiments. Having continued 
for some 15 or 20 minutes, Col. Forney gave the command 
to charge and led his regiment in person. — Gen. Wilcox, C. 
S. A. 

Col. Herbert of the 8th Alabama, in the fight, wrote 
Gen. Berdan after the war: "It was a very gallant fight 
you made that morning. The result was veryimportant to 
the Union side, showing the presence of Confederates at that 

Among our casualties we had an accomplished officer 
killed : Capt. McLean of Co. D. Referring to him 26 years 
after, Chas. J. Buchanan, in a beautiful oration delivered at 
this spot, at the dedication of a monument to the Sharp- 
shooters by the Empire State, feelingly said : "Capt. Charles 
D. McLean of Co. D, was mortally wounded in this encoun- 
ter, and but a few paces from wdiere we now are. He was 
one of the best officers in the regiment, and a braver soldier 
and nobler man never lived. Smith Haight and Edwin E. 
Nelson of "D" company, both excellent soldiers, were also 
severely wounded here. Haight lived but a few hours." 
Died July 2d. Buchanan was at the time, a prominent non- 
commissioned officer of the company, afterwards rewarded 
with a lieutenancy. He was personally known to me to be 
one of the completest soldiers in our organization, always 
neat in his appearance, prompt and brave, always ready for 


duty in every engagement of his company, and always with 
them from muster-in to muster-out. Capt. McLean was a 
most worthy commander of such worthy men, and his loss 
was mourned by them all. He died in the hands of the 
enemy July 4th. 

Peter H. Kipp, of Company D, makes the following 
statement: "When we received orders to retreat, we had 
fired on an average to a man, 95 rounds. We had gone but 
a few steps to the rear when I saw Capt. McLean fall; I 
called to our orderly-sergeant and to Lieut. Hetherington. 
They came back with Edwin Nelson ; we got a blanket and 
started to carry our captain off; but Nelson was wounded 
before we had gone a dozen steps, when Alexander Ferguson 
took his place at the blanket, but had gone but a few steps 
when the captain told us to leave him and look out for our- 
selves or we would all be shot. So we laid him down ; after 
I had got some little distance away, Lieut. Hetherington 
told me to go back to stay with the captain. When I got 
back to where he lay, the rebel skirmishers were just pass- 
ing him, three Johnnies had stopped to look at him. I told 
them who he was, that I had come back to stay with him. 
They told me I must go to the rear with them, but when I 
refused they pricked me with their bayonets drawing blood 
in three places, then a rebel lieutenant came up and stopped 
them, telling me he would get an ambulance and take the 
captain off, that I should stay with him. We started for 
the rear, and passed through where Longstreet's men had 
halted. It is impossible for me to describe the slaughter we 
had made in their ranks. In all my past service, it beat all 
I had ever seen for the number engaged and for so short a 
time. They were piled in heaps and across each other. 
When I got to where the surgeons were dressing the 
wounded, I found hundreds of wounded men there. The 
doctor would hardly believe that there were so few of us 
fighting them, thought we had a corps, as he said he never 

i* y/^C 


saw lead so thick in his life as it was in those woods. But 
when I told him who we were, said that accounted for it, 
as he claimed "the Sharpshooters were the worst men we 
have to contend with." Furthermore, I had been a prisoner 
about a half hour, when Gen. A. P. Hill came up with his 
whole corps, forming line of battle a little to the right of 
where we had the fight. 

Lewis J. Allen, first sergeant of Company F, on the right 
of the line, had his rifle-hammer shot away, and as he said, 
"swapped" with a wounded man hobbling off using his rifle 
for a crutch. Amid the great noise and smoke, in his efforts 
to keep up the music on his end of the line, he failed to notice 
the withdrawal of his comrades until almost left alone, 
when suddenly realizing his danger, he bid valor sleep for 
awhile, and broke for the rear. On getting out of the woods 
when he struck the plowed ground his wind gave out, sharp 
pains ran through his side, his long legs refused to go faster 
than a walk, and that with difficulty, owing to sheer ex- 
haustion while running the gauntlet of southern marksman- 
ship, the bullets flying around him, with every moment ex- 
pecting to be his last. In fact, this lineal descendant of 
"Ticonderoga Allen" was just about petered out — not un- 
like a foundered horse — when he reached a farm house and 
pushing through the gate fell exhausted on the green sward. 
To use his own words: "The two women of the house 
came out. The Irish lady, seeing my convulsive clasp on my 
side and struggle for breath, ejaculated : 'Lord save us, he's 
shot!' They ran into the house, crying: 'Where's the 
butcher knife?' and to my horror, she brought a huge knife 
like a seaman's cutlass, cutting off my belt, knapsack, hav- 
ersack and canteen. At last I managed to gasp: "Don't 
cut any more, I'm not shot ! ' She fiercely turned with : 'Ye 
blathering divil ye, ye're making all that divil's fuss and not 
shot? ' I looked up, to see a squad of rebs coming through 
the gate as I had done, and, making a hasty grab for my 


traps that lay as the old lady had strewn them about me, I 
went out of the front gate 'on the fly,' and turning left on 
the road ran in the direction of Little Round Top, near 
where I could see the 3d corps headquarters flag, with 
Gen. Daniel E. Sickles and staff. The rest of our regiment 
were there near the general. As I joined them, I saw the 
reb skirmishers coming down the slope towards Little 
Round Top. I saw Gen. Berdan report our work to Gen. 
Sickles, and our troops by brigade and divisions, double- 
quicking to the line on which the battle was fought from 
our side." 

Eugene Paine, of the same company, one of the original 
members, had a similar experience. His position as third 
man from the left, brought him down in a gully, which 
offered fair protection, from whence he did some rapid 
firing from a rest, holding his rifle low on the advancing 
line, coming from the stone wall 200 yards in their front. 
The leaves and small limbs from the trees cut away by the 
flying balls, falling about our men, while slivers and bark, 
Paine said, filling his ears and face, almost prevented sight. 
When the bugle sounded the retreat, his sreatest troubles 
began, although he put in three more shots before he got up 
to run back, whereby he came very near being too late. 
Passing by a number of killed and wounded, he refused to 
stop and give up to the rebel shouters behind him, cursing 
him for a "Yank," which only made him run faster, "the 
whizzing bullets, bark and splinters" all around him, while 
his clothes were cut in three places by balls. Finally, reach- 
ing the wheat field he sank down exhausted, and while near 
an old barn shattered by a shell, where he had fainted from 
the effects of his desperate exertions, coupled with the great 
heat, some shots close over his head arousing him, he 
jumped up in time to see an unfortunate rooster fall — for 
crowing over the boys' retreat. 


Allen afterwards said, that at the time this reconnois- 
•sancc was made and for a long time thereafter, the men 
generally could not see the importance of the movement; 
rather, did they consider it a reckless, foolhardy venture. 
But even if it was so, and all the reports of the generals 
connected with the reconnoissance prove to the contrary, I 
must say in the light of the revelation made by Gen. Long- 
street, Gens. Sickles, Hunt and others, as quoted, that the 
"venture" inured to the lasting benefit of the Union cause. 

Another discerning soldier, writes from Concord, N. H., 
under date of Feb. 10, 1891, relative to this affair, thus: 
"I remeniber the 2d of July, 1863, and what transpired in 
that belt of timber, just as plain as though it happened but 
yesterday. We arrived at Gettysburg the night ot Jul}' 1st, 
lying in a piece of woods until the next morning, when, at 
about ten a. m., I should say, four companies of us were 
ordered to the front. We knew then that if there were any 
rebels within 10 miles of us, we should find them; because 
when we used to go to the front, the troops would say : 
'There goes Berdan's men, they will soon stir up a fight,' 
and the}' were right, every time. How still everything 
seemed when we started out that morning. No one would 
have thought that two mighty armies lay so near each 
other, ready to do battle at the first opportunity, but such 
was the fact. We went up past the peach orchard and 
crossed over the Emmitsburg road, down another road 
past a smith's shop, into another piece of woods, and 
halted. Soon the order came to deploy, which we did at 
once. Then Col. Berdan rode out into the woods and was 
gone a short time. He soon returned, and in a very short 
time the order came to advance. We met the enemy in 
great numbers before we had advanced far, and we four 
companies of Sharpshooters, with the 3d Maine, who gave 
us hearty support, held the whole of Longstreet's division 
for 15 or 20 minutes; long enough for Meade to get his 


troops into position, to better meet Lee's army which so 
soon dashed against our left, in order to get possession of 
Little Round Top, the key to the situation." — Gilman K. 
Crowell, (Co. E. 1st S. S. ) 

The name of "Pitzers Run," is as much entitled to be 
inscribed on the Sharpshooter banner, as are other separate, 
distinct actions, wherein these riflemen -were the chief actors. 
For this movement was similar to the one before Chancellors- 
ville at the "Cedars," — so named by Gen. Birney in our 
honor,— both being to discover the enemy's movements, far 
away from the main lines, both successfully accomplished. 
As well also, the first day's battle at Yorktown as dis- 
tinguished from the siege. These separate, isolated affairs, 
are usually awarded to other organizations, so that the 
Sharpshooters are justly entitled to count — and I claim it 
for them — the name of Pitzer's Run, among their list of 

In after years, on the memorial occasion referred to, 
Gen. Sickles, in a letter to the survivors, said: "It is not 
too much to declare that you were able to develop and 
disclose enough of the position, force, formation and move- 
ments ol the enemy, to warrant the belief that the battle 
would be fought on the left, and to justify the dispositions 
made by me to meet the enemy there. This reconnoissance 
is historical. It deserves commemoration. It was not only 
a brilliant feat of arms, it was of inestimable advantage 
and value to our cause, contributing, as it did, to the 
decisive victory of July 2d, from which the enemy never 

Lieut. -Col. Trepp, who accompanied the expedition, in 
his report (July 29, 1863,) says: "On examining the 
ammunition of my detachment (after their return), I found 
that we had not more than about five rounds per man. * * * 
With the balance of this command, I was then posted as a 
support to Capt. J. H. Baker's line of skirmishers from this 
regiment, in front of the center of the Third Army Corps. 


As Capt. Baker is now wounded and absent, I am unable to 
furnish the details concerning the detachment under his com- 
mand, but I am informed that he took his position without 
order, following the instincts of the true soldier, the sound 
of the firing, and that at one time, when the enemy pushed 
his skirmish line to and across the road, he charged with 
part of his command on the enemy, driving them across the 
field. I have to call especial attention to the good behavior 
of this officer in all the engagements, and I would respect- 
fully recommend him for decoration or honorable mention. 
The same of Privates Martin V. Nichols and William PL 
Nichols, Company H, who distinguished themselves on this 
and on former occasions by bravery and intelligence." 


On receiving the information from Berdan, so plainly 
indicating the enemy's intentions, Gen. Sickles made his 
dispositions accordingly, to await and meet the now cer- 
tain attack. His line was advanced a mile to the crest in 
front near the Emmitsburg road, Gen. Humphreys' divis- 
ion occupying the crest facing westerly; while that of 
Birney swung around to the south, his right under Gen. 
Graham resting at the peach orchard, connecting with 
Humphreys', the brigade of DeTrobriand in the center, his 
left under Ward at the Little Round Top. The batteries 
were brought up and put in position all along the line. Gen. 
Meade thought Sickles was too far out, but while "discuss- 
ing with him the proprietv of withdrawing," the enemy's 
columns appeared, preceded by a general discharge from 
their cannon. In making this move forward, to meet the 
enemy as it were, to quote the words of Lieut. Buchanan: 
"It in all probability forced Lee to attack the 3d corps when 
and where it did in its advanced position, making certain 
the glorious result accomplished here, under which the rebels 
groaned and staggered, and from which they never rallied." 


And while the 3d corps, as a result of the great battle that 
began a couple of hours after Col. Berdan's return, became 
almost decimated in its terrible losses, in the struggle to 
keep the overwhelming enemy off, sufficient time was gained 
to throw supports and reinforcements from right to left, 
including the 5th and 12th corps, enabling them to present 
a barrier around Round Top mountain that the enemy could 
not break. The struggle was terrific, the cannonading 
awful in sound and fury, while the little balls hissed by the 
thousands, in or about the forms of the contending forces, 
often invisible 'mid the dense white smoke that enveloped 
that part of the field. 

The casualties early assumed fearful proportions, con- 
tinuing to a frightful extent before the battle was over. In 
one regiment, 141st Pennsylvania, which took into the field 
200 guns and nine officers, the loss was 145 enlisted men 
and six officers. This regiment, as a part of the 1st brigade 
of Birney's division, was in the thickest of the fight. But 
men fell on all sides, everywhere, in all the commands 
engaged. Officers, high and low, seemed to vie with the men 
in sealing their devotion to the cause of the Union, with 
their life, or through all manner of wounds. Gen. Graham, 
commanding the 1st brigade, 1st division, was wounded and 
captured. Gen. Sickles here lost a leg — his last appearance 
on the field of active service. On his fall, Gen. Birney 
assumed command of the corps and gallantly— but the sor- 
row of the survivors went out to their late commander, 
whose undaunted courage and ability had stood the test of 
the mam' past hard-fought battles, gaining for him a renown 
that must ever remain attached to his name — the heroic 
Daniel E. Sickles. 

Meanwhile, B and G, under Marble, encountered the 
enemy in force debouching from the woods 300 yards in their 
front, who advanced in line of battle across the plain half- 
way, where the}' were twice badly broken up and scattered 


by the Sharps rifles concentrating on them from all points, 
causing them to fall back in great confusion ; some taking 
cover behind trees, from which they were shot down by both 
direct and cross-fires from all our detached companies. The 
service performed by the Sharpshooters here, was of the most 
heroic character, as they were in constant danger of being 
cut off by the increasing forces in their front. But for their 
persistent determination to hold their ground, the enemy 
must have crossed the Emmitsburg road before our infantry 
were in position to check them. Company K, posted on the 
Emmitsburg road a half-mile or more to the right of Little 
Round Top, met the charge at that point with the same per- 
sistency and patriotic behavior. It was not until fiveo'elcck 
that our boys were obliged to fall back, after being repeat- 
edly signalled to do so, with their ammunition expended, 
during the time of the severe struggle at the Round Tops, 
with a heavy line of battle coming on them in front. The 
Sharpshooters resting behind the artillery, the big guns 
opened, and with the assistance of our troops in compact 
line, finally sent the steadily approaching foe staggering 
back with heavy loss, discomfited and defeated for the 

These companies on the line of the Emmitsburg road 
and the peach orchard, particularly the commands of Baker 
(C) and Marble (B and G), by their stubborn fighting in 
keeping off so long the superior force confronting them, 
made it possible in a great degree for the reconnoitering 
party to Pitzer's Run to accomplish their mission, as in a 
measure auxiliaries thereto, and should be awarded not a 
whit less credit for the part they performed. In fact, all the 
Sharpshooters, of both regiments, became by force of cir- 
cumstances accessories before and after the movement under 
Col. Berdan. 

Humphreys' division had maintained the unequal con- 
test at the Emmitsburg road for a considerable time, with 


both flanks exposed, and when finally ordered back to the 
original line connecting with the 2d corps, the movement 
was closely followed by the enerm'j our men retiring slowly, 
contesting stubbornly every foot of ground. The loss in the 
division that afternoon, according to Gen. Humphreys, was 
over 2,000 out of 5,000 engaged. The division really had 
but two brigades in front, during the heavy fighting, Bur- 
ling's (3d) brigade having been detached to aid the 1st 
division. The artillery suffered greatly: Seeley's battery 
(4th U. S.) lost 23, with 25 horses. Turnbull's battery (3d 
U. S.) also lost 23, and 44 horses killed. Both of these bat- 
tery commanders were among the wounded. The 15th 
Alassachusetts and 82d New York made a stout fight at the 
Emmitsburg road, suffering greatly themselves, hurting the 
enemy as much. Their colonels, Ward and Huston, both 
fell while here in advance. Lieut. Thomas commanding a 
batter}-, was highly praised for his gallantry in serving his 
guns, contributing greatly to the enemy's defeat. 

Prominent in this grand repulse was a portion of Stan- 
nard's Vermont brigade, the 13th regiment of wmich, under 
direction of Gen. Hancock who followed up the movement 
in person, recaptured four guns of the regular artiller\', 
which had been unavoidably left in the extreme front 
through the shooting of all the horses and the severe loss of 
the batterymen ; which regiment shortly after, again dis- 
tinguished itself by taking two rebel fieldpieces with a num- 
ber of prisoners. Col. Randall says this last success was 
accomplished by a single company, who charged the battery 
from the Emmitsburg road. This brigade of five regiments 
w r as a new acquisition, having joined the army the night of 
the 1st, after marching, Gen. Stannard says, seven days 
through rain and mud, from their encampment on the 
Occoquan river below r Washington, at an average of 18 miles 
per day. They were assigned to the 1st corps, and proved 


themselves worthy in all respects to occupy a position in that 
veteran organization. 

The 1st Minnesota (Gibbon's division, 2d corps), after 
being subjected to severe artillery fire during the forenoon, 
also distinguished themselves in a charge made late in the 
day, driving a rebel regiment off in a very demoralized con- 
dition, inflicting great losses and capturing their colors. It 
was a very important point, a break in our lines, through 
which the enemy were trying to pass under cover of a 
wooded front, when the veteran 1st Minnesota met them 
with gleaming bayonets and smoking muskets, at a cost to 
themselves of two-thirds of the command from the wither- 
ing fire they encountered. Gen. Hancock mentions them in 
this affair thus : " I cannot speak too highly of this regiment 
and its commander, in its attack, as well as in its subse- 
quent advance against the enemy." All the field officers, 
Col. Colvill, Lieut. -Col. Adams, and Major Downie were 
severely wounded, while a large number of line officers, also 
the adjutant, were injured, some fatally. Company L, trans- 
ferred from Berdan's regiment at Fair Oaks, was at the 
front doing duty as sharpshooters. 

During this contest in which the enemy stubbornly per- 
sisted in his desperate attempts to break our lines at this 
critical point, the field batteries of the 2d corps became the 
center of one of the hottest fights of the day, their gunners 
being continually shot down by their pieces, yet did they 
serve them well to the very last. Brown's battery lost a 
portion of its guns for a time, but the 19th Maine coming 
to the rescue, eventually saved them after a hard fight. This 
batter\* had 24 horses killed and several guns disabled, while 
the commanding officer, Lieut. Brown, was severely 

Col. Heath, 19th Maine, was attacked with equal des- 
peration, the enemy at one time obtaining possession of 
three of the guns of the battery on his left. These guns he 


retook and carried from the field, most of the battery horses 
having been killed and wounded. — Gen. Harrow. 

Major Curtis, 7th Michigan, in his report, thus refers to 
the action at this place: " Assoon as the enemy came within 
range, a rapid and destructive fire opened on them along our 
line. The enemy continued to advance boldly until within 
30 or 40 yards of our line, where, partially protected by the 
rocks and shrubs, they continued to pour in a galling fire. 
The artillerymen belonging to the batteries being nearly all 
killed or wounded, the guns were silenced. Advancing boldly 
to the battery on our left, the enemy took possession plant- 
ing a battle flag upon one of them. Their triumph, however, 
was short. A deadly volley was poured upon them at not 
more than 30 yards distance. Their color bearer fell, pierced 
by a' dozen bullets. Many others were killed or wounded, 
and they were forced to fall back to their cover, and the bat- 
tery was saved. During the hottest of the firing many of 
the enemy were seen to throw down their guns, and, creep- 
ing along the ground to our lines, surrendered as prisoners. 
The enemy, failing most completely in their attempt to carry 
our line by assault, retreated in considerable disorder." The 
rebel General Barksdale was mortally wounded close to our 

Near the close of the day, a portion of the 1st corps (2d 
and 3d divisions) ordered from their position on Cemetery 
Hill, were hurried down by Gen. Doubleday to fill the gap to 
the left of the 2d corps. It was at a critical time in the 
engagement when these troops were called upon, but they 
did not become extensively engaged. The 12th corps was 
also ordered to the extreme left, although . not needed when 
they arrived there. The 6th corps which arrived on the 
scene late in the day, after a lengthy march, was moved in 
detachments to different points on the long line, as a reserve 
force, and were at no time during the entire battle seriously 



While a great battle raged along the west front of the 
3d corps, which extended along the lines of Graham's and 
De Trobriand's brigades of Birney's division from the peach 
orchard southeasterly, the "key" of the entire engagement 
— as it has been so generally termed — was the contest in 
front of Little Round Top. Here, Ward's brigade— the 
extreme left of the 3d corps— rested on the rocks of the little 
mountain. And when the skirmishers (2d S. S.) sent out by 
Gen. Ward a half-mile in his front, discovered the enemy's 
approach, as they appeared issuing from a wood in long 
lines of battle, W r inslow's and Smith's batteries opened on 
them a well-directed fire, which was answered by the enemy's 
field pieces posted near the Emmitsburg road. The yelling 
of the approaching Johnnies at first was not unlike the 
music of a flock of brant in the air preparing to alight ; but 
as they came nearer, the yells and shouts grew louder and 
more distinct, so that by the time they got within 200 
yards of the brigade, rising above the cannons' roar, 

These piercing, frenzied shouts, 
Struck terror to the soul. 

But the souls of Ward's soldiers refused to be struck that 
way. They had heard it before, and they knew how to stop 
it. And right there those demon cries stopped short — com- 
pletely cut off by the volleys that greeted them. 

" Their rising all at once was as the sound of thunder." 

The enemy reinforced by supporting columns running up, 
another and more serious attack was made, with an attempt 
to gain the stone fence between them. Amid the thick of the 
fight, covered with smoke and bleeding from their wounds, 
the musket balls and bursting shell whizzing, singing, hiss- 
ing and crashing back and forth, blue coats dropping, grey 




coats falling, for upwards of an hour and a half the oppos« 
ing forces tried to hold this substantial ready-made breast- 
work — this stone wall — without success on either side. 
During this hard battle the losses were getting heavy- 
Yanks and Johnnies falling at every fire— when the brigade- 
out of ammunition, withdrew on being relieved by troops 
from the 2d and 5th corps. Previous to this, Egan's 
"Mozart regiment," the 40th New York, coming to their 
aid rushed gallantly forward through a wet marsh, knee 
deep in water and mud, to attack the Confederate lines, suf- 
fering very much from shot and shell. 

Gen. Ward says: This brigade, with the exception of 
Antietam, has been engaged in every battle fought by the 
Army of the Potomac, and has been frequently mentioned 
for its gallantry, but on this occasion it eclipsed all its former 
actions. The immense force opposed to them was at one 
time almost overwhelming. The number of effective men in 
the brigade when they engaged the enemy was not 1,500, 
while the loss is nearlv 800. Out of 14 field officers, we lost 
eight. The 3d and 4th Maine, 20th Indiana, and 99th 
Pennsylvania Volunteers, the veterans of this brigade, to 
their world-wide reputation have added new laurels, and, if 
possible, excelled themselves. The First and Second U. S. 
Sharpshooters and the 86th and 124th New York Volun- 
teers, recently assigned to this brigade, have richly earned 
the title to wear the "Kearny patch." * * * To the 
officers and men of my command, without exception, my 
thanks and the thanks of the country are eminently due. 
For nearly two hours my brigade was opposed to at least 
10,000 of the enemy, in line and en masse. I would particu- 
larly call the attention of the major-general commanding 
(among others named) to the gallant conduct of Col. 
Berdan, 1st U. S. Sharpshooters; Col. Lakeman, 3d 
Maine; and Major Stoughton, 2d U. S. Sharpshooters, who 
vied with each other in doing their whole duty. The total 
loss in my brigade was 46 officers and 712 enlisted men.— J. 
H. Hobart Ward. 


Every man engaged strove hard to win, their hot guns 
in constant use, encouraged at all points by the presence of 
their officers close up and urgent. The regimental command- 
ers attested their share of the dangers with the rank and 
file, in the severe loss they sustained. Of the eight field offi- 
cers shot down— more than half present— Col. Wheeler, of the 
20th Indiana, was shot through the head ; Col. Ellis and 
Major Cromwell, 124th New York, were both shot through 
the head, while their lieutenant-colonel, Cummins, went 
down wounded; Col. Walker and Major Whitcomb, 4th. 
Maine, suffered severe wounds; also Major Lee, 3d Maine, 
and Lieut. -Col. Higgins, of 86th New York. Upwards of 
50 per cent, of that devoted brigade bled for the Union in 
that sanguinary contest. On the fall of Gen. Sickles, Gen. 
Ward succeeded Gen. Birney in command of the division. 
Col. Berdan then commanded the 2d brigade. 

The 5th corps also made a hard fight, as usual, Gen. 
Sykes commanding. They were on the extreme left at Lit- 
tle Round Top; w r hich important point had been recognized 
by Gen. Warren, of Meade's staff, and formerly of the 5th 
corps which he, later on, commanded. Here on this height 
after a most gallant and successful effort in resisting the 
crowding enemy, fell one of the brave soldiers of the war, 
Col. Strong Vincent, while at the head of his brigade in 
Barnes' division. From this point the 20th Maine, after 
driving the enemy away from their front, following a pro- 
longed contest disputed inch by inch on both sides — in which 
the gray divided the honors with the blue, in point of 
bravery, meeting death alike — drove the gray coats out of 
the ravine between the mountains, chargingup and over the 
greater Round Top, holding it therealter. This was late in 
the evening and virtually closed the struggle. Gen. Weed, 
one of the brigade commanders, and Lieut. Hazlett of the 
artillery, were killed in this contest. 


Caldwell's division of the 2d corps, also ordered to the 
left, filled a gap between the right of the 5th and left of the 
3d, and advancing, drove the enemy in his front through a 
field of wheat, after another stubborn fight, and so far, as 
to get in advance, breaking the connection of the troops on 
his left ; and before he could be supported by them, was 
obliged to give way, the rebels getting in his rear, so that 
with difficulty he got by them. His loss was heavy, among 
them Gen. Zook and Col. Cross, brigade commanders. 
Sweitzer's brigade of the 5th corps in an effort to reach 
him, had to fight its wa} r back at close quarters, the 4th 
Michigan and 62d Pennsylvania having a hand-to-hand 
conflict with the foe, in which Col. Jeffords of the 4th, was 
bayoneted and killed— a savage thrust — while trying to save 
his colors. 

To describe the efforts of all the commands in this en- 
gagement, would fill the space of a large volume; I will 
therefore close the account of this day's battle, by noticing 
the part taken therein by the 2d Sharpshooters, under Lieut.- 
Col. Stoughton; after referring to the night attack on our 
extreme right, wherein an effort was made to capture the 
position at Culp's Hill now held by only Gen. Greene's bri- 
gade of the 12th corps. Here, after a sharp struggle of nearly 
three hours in which several regiments of the 1st and 11th 
corps finally took part, the troops of Ewell having pene- 
trated our vacant lines were forced back from Greene's in- 
trenchments, although when the action ended at half-past 
nine the enemy remained in possession of the trenches on the 
right — the only lodgment effected by them during the entire 
day. During this attack on Greene, Wadsworth's and 
Ames' divisions became engaged, the enemy making a bold 
attempt to capture Wiedrich's battery, when, according to 
Gen. Howard, "the men with sponge staffs and bayonets 
forced them back." About this time, Col. Carroll's brigade 
from the 2d corps reinforced our men, deploying into posi- 


tion on the right of the 11th, "just in time to check the 
enemy's advance." 

Col. Carroll says of this affair: "We found the enemy 
up to and some of them in among the front guns of the bat- 
teries on the road. Owing to the artillery fire from our own 
guns, it was impossible to advance by a longer front than 
that of a regiment, and it being perfectly dark, and with no 
guide, I had to find the enemy's lines entirely by their fire. 
For the first few minutes they had a cross-fire upon us from 
a stone wall on the right of the road, but, by changing the 
front of the 7th West Virginia, they were soon driven from 

In the morning Col. Stoughton's command was put in 
position on the extreme left of the 3d corps, posted so as to 
cover the ravine between the Round Tops, as that noted 
officer says: "by putting Company H on the brow of the 
hill, with vedettes overlooking the ravine; and Company D 
in the ravine near the woods, to watch the enemy's move- 
ments in that direction. Companies A, E, G and C formed 
a line perpendicular to the cross-road that intersects with 
the Emmitsburg pike. Companies B and F I held in 
reserve." Here they remained until two o'clock, when the 
regiment deployed in front of Ward's brigade, passing 
through the woods into the open field, a half-mile away. 
Col. Stoughton riding forward, saw the enemy's skirmishers 
coming in on his right flank, which being exposed, caused 
him to retire his men under fire, to a new position, where 
they did some good work, silencing one of the rebel cannon 
at t e Emmitsburg road, and peppering their lines of battle 
following up their skirmishers. One of their regiments broke 
three times before they would come on, under the well-aimed 
fire of the Sharpshooters. And not until the gray coats 
were within 100 j^ards of them did they fall back, firing as 
they did so. Col. Stoughton again: "My lelt wing re- 
treated up the hill and allowed the enemy to pass up the 


ravine, when they poured a destructive fire into his flank 
and rear. Here, Adjt. Norton, with about a dozen men, 
caplured and sent to the rear 22 prisoners. Special mention 
should be made of this officer for his coolness and bravery 
during this day's engagement, The right wing fell back 
gradually until they mingled with the regiments composing 
the 2d brigade and remained till night, when the brigade 
was relieved." He also reports a loss of 28; among them 
Capt. Rowell (acting major), Capts. McClure and Buxton, 
wounded, and Lieut. Pettijohn taken prisoner. The impor- 
tant service rendered by Stoughton's command, consisted 
in discovering the approach of the enemy for the attack, 
and in guarding the ravine up to the last moment. Also, 
in holding in check a portion of the rebel column in their 
efforts to gain the Round Top, until too late for them to 
profit thereby. As a recognition of this fact by the enemy 
themselves, I herewith submit a letter received by Col. 
Stoughton after the war, from the Confederate officer in 
command of the troops that were crowding him out of their 

Abbeville, Ala., Nov. 22, 1888. 
Col. H. R. Stoughton: — My regiment, 15th Alabama, 
was on the right of the Confederate line of battle. The po- 
sition from which we advanced was at or near an old hedge 
row, north of the pike Emmitsburg, I believe, and right at 
the brow of the ridge south of Round Top. My orders 
were to guide to the foot of Round Top and hug to its 
base, keeping to the west of it and passing up the valley 
between it and Little Round Top, to find the Federal left 
and turn it if possible, and to go as far as I could. The 
lieutenant-colonel, Bulger, commanding the 47th Alabama 
regiment, was directed to keep close to me. This line of 
advance was a converging one, and had it not been dis- 
turbed by the presence of your command when it first 
appeared would have strengthened as we advanced, and 
our losses would not have produced any gaps or breaks in 
our line. The advance began, and when the right of myregi- 


merit approached the first foot of Round Top, we received 
your fire nearly in flank; our advance of 150 yards further 
without change of direction would have presented my right 
flank to your left, had your line been parallel; but as your 
right was retired in conformity to the ground, you had 
partly a front and partly a right oblique fire on me. 
Receiving no orders, I did not vary my course until you 
gave me a second one, which wounded several of my men, 
among them my lieutenant-colonel, Isaac B. Feogin, who 
lost a leg, and he now lives at Union Springs, Bullock 
county, Alabama. I then, knowing that it would not do to 
pass and leave you on my right and rear, gave the com- 
mand, "Change direction to the right," and swung around 
far enough to advance on you, and the 47th Alabama 
swung with me. My advance dislodged you, but as you 
fell back up the south front of Round Top, you kept up a 
lively fire on my advancing line, which returned it but 
without much effectiveness, as your men, being trained 
sharpshooters and skirmishers, kept well under cover, 
taking advantage of the bowlders which line the mountain 
side. When over half-way up your fire ceased, and hence- 
forth to the top I did not see one of your men. * * * I 
halted and rested for two or three minutes on the top of 
Round Top. My men were fainting with fatigue. We had 
marched 25 miles that day before going into the battle. I 
then advanced down the north side and to the east end of 
Vincent's Spur, where lay Vincent's brigade, the left of the 
Union line of battle, which I attacked and drove back upon 
the center, and my fire killed Gen. Vincent; but just as my 
ammunition was getting short, and when I was within 120 
yards of Little Round Top, Lieut. -Col. Bulger (who now 
lives at Dadeville, Ala.; Mike Bulger is his name; he is now 
quite old and feeble) fell, severely wounded, and his regiment, 
which had suffered severely, broke and retreated in con- 
fusion. A moment later } t ou appeared directly in my rear 
and opened fire on me. I then occupied the ledge of rocks 
from which I had driven the 20th Maine. That and a New 
York regiment assailing me in front and you in the rear, 
forced my thinned ranks to face and fire in both directions, 
which we could not long endure. Half my men still able for 
duty were without ammunition. Two of my captains 


came and suggested a retreat. I ordered them to return to 
their respective companies and sell out as dearly as possible. 
But a little reflection made it appear as my duty to order a 
retreat, which I did, and we ran up the mountain and 
halted on the top for some time, and at deep dusk we moved 
back to an old house near the line of our advance, where 
we bivouacked for the night. Mine was the largest and best 
drilled and disciplined regiment in Hood's division. It went 
in with two field officers, 42 company and staff officers, and 
644 men with arms in hand, and got out with one field 
officer, 19 company and staff, and 221 efficient men. 

The great service which you and your command did 
was, first, in changing my direction, and in drawing my 
regiment and the 47th Alabama away from the point of 
attack. You drew off and delayed this force of over 1,000 
men from falling on Vincent and the Union left at the same 
time of the attack of Law's other three regiments, the 
Texas and two Georgia brigades in front, and but for this 
service on your part I am confident we would have swept 
away the Union line and have captured Little Round Top, 
which would have won the battle for us. Again, when 
Vincent had fallen and I was within 150 yards of the top of 
Little Round Top, you forced me to retire by appearing in 
my rear and opening fire on me. The foregoing is substan- 
tially my recollection of you and your command at the 
great battle of Gettysburg. You and your command 
deserve a monument for turning the tide in favor of the 
Union cause. But after all, if Bulger had not fallen when 
he did, or if Longstreet had possessed less love for the fray 
and been at his proper place to have seen that we had 
Round Top, and had thrown a force on it and fortified it 
that night, the battle had been won for the Confederates. 
Meade testified that "with that which was the key-point 
in possession of the rebels, I could not have held any of the 
ground which I subsequently held to the last." Victor 
Hugo said: "Two great armies in battle are like two 
giants in a wrestle; a stump, a projecting root, or a tuft of 
grass may serve to brace the one or trip the other; on such 
s ] P „ri er threads does the fate of nations depend." 
- W.vr. C. Cates. 


Capt. H. P. Smith says: "My company, G, deployed 
as skirmishers, was almost directly in front of the charging 
column, but we didn't stay there, neither did we kill the 
whole of Hood's corps. We certainly made it interesting 
for some of the Johnnies, and we were soon in as much 
danger from the fire from our own men and artillery 
(behind them), as we were from the enemy. * * * The 
3d corps fought that day when all the chances seemed to be 
against them." 

With such stinging effect did the Second Regiment pep- 
per the Confederates up and down the mountain sides, from 
behind bowlders and trees, and finally from across the 
ravine, that some of the rebel officers termed it "a perfect 
hornets' nest of sharpshooters," which was the most signifi- 
cant term that could have been given. And were it not 
for their obstinate defense of the position and the pass 
between the mountains, contesting every inch of the way, 
Oates' boast to have been able to take little Round Top 
might possibly have been a true one — although, we had 
some pretty good men up there and they would pretty 
much all of them had to be killed off first, for they were 
there to stay. 

The battle for the day being over, our troops rested as 
well as they could in their different positions, on the rocky 
ridges, the wooded hill-sides, and on the open plain. Worn 
out with fatigue, it mattered little to them if it was only a 
stone for a pillow, as long as they could stretch out and 
snatch a few hours' slumber; replenishing first their car- 
tridge boxes, the ammunition being brought to them. 

But there was no uncertainty about the rest and sleep 
of the countless ones in their front, needing no blanket or 
coat for evermore. Their hardships were over, their service 
was finished. They were at peace with each other, the blue 
and the gray, lying side by side. While behind the lines, 
where the little red flags flaunted, the "good doctors " held 


their receptions — some of the field-hospitals being in build- 
ings, some behind stacks of grain. 

"The barns that once held yellow grain 
"Were heaped with harvests of the slain." 


The battle was resumed at the first break of day in 
front of the 12th corps, to regain their position on the 
right; and after seven hours obstinate fighting — from half- 
past three to half-past ten a. m. — the rebels were finally 
driven away and the corps won back all its intrenchments, 
forcing the enemy beyond its original line, taking from him 
over 1,100 prisoners, half of whom were disabled, 5,000 
small arms and three stand of colors. It is said that nearly 
1,000 gray coats were afterwards buried by our troops on 
this part of the field, while their wounded can be estimated 
in the usual proportion. Neill's and Shaler's brigades of the 
6th corps, and two skeleton regiments from Cutler's brigade 
of the 1st, (14th Brooklyn and 147th New York,) assisted 
in this important repulse. It was a red-hot fight all 
through, several desperate charges being made onboth sides, 
with equal determination and spirit, the enemy seemingly 
determined to uphold the boast of Gen. Ewell to capture 
the place or lose the last man; while our soldiers were 
equally as determined they shouldn't succeed. When the 
final charge was made by the Boys in Blue, many of the 
enemy were glad to duck under their glistening bayonets, 
and give themselves up. 

Gen. Geary in his graphic report of this contest, says: 
"Everything being in readiness at half past three a.m. (early 
dawn) a simultaneous attack was made by artillery and the 
2d and 3d brigades. This attack was most furious, but was 
stubbornly met. Our artillery fire continued, by previous 
arrangements for 10 minutes. This tremendous assault at 


first staggered the enemy, b}< whom it was seemingly unex- 
pected; but, rallying as my troops charged at the close of 
the artillery fire, Johnson's division of E well's corps, fol- 
lowed by Rodes', and that supported by Early's, each 
division massed in three lines, advanced, charging heavily 
upon our front and right, and yelling in their peculiar style. 
They were met at every point by the unswerving lines and 
deadly fire of my 2d and 3d brigades, our men cheering 
loudly and yielding not an inch of ground. Line after line 
of the enemy broke under this steady fire, but the pressing 
masses from behind rushed forward to take their places." 
And their last assault is thus described: " At twenty-five 
minutes past ten o'clock two brigades of Johnson's division, 
having formed in column by regiments, charged upon our 
line on the right. They met the determined men of Kane's 
little brigade, which though only 650 strong, poured into 
them so continuous a fire that when within 70 paces their 
columns wavered and soon broke to the rear. The 1st 
Maryland battalion (rebel) was in the advance, and their 
dead lay mingled with our own. This was the last charge. 
As they fell back, our troops rushed forward with wild 
cheers of victory, driving the rebels in confusion over the 
intrenchments, the ground being covered with their dead 
and w r ounded. Large numbers of them crowded under our 
breastworks and begged to be taken as prisoners. Among 
these were many of the celebrated Stonewall Brigade, who, 
when ordered for the last time to charge upon Greene's 
breastworks, advanced until met by our terrible fire, and 
then, throwing down their arms, rushed in with white flags, 
handkerchiefs, and even pieces of paper, in preference to 
meeting again that fire which was certain destruction. As 
they threw themselves forward and crouched under our line 
of fire, they begged our men to spare them, and they were 
permitted to come into our lines. The commanding offieer 
of a regiment raised a white flag, when Major (B. W.) Leigh, 
assistant adjutant-general of Johnson's division, rode for- 
ward to order it down, and fell, pierced by a dozen balls, his 
body remaining in our possession." 

Thus ended one of the most desperate and futile attempts 
to turn the Union position ever made in the war. Their aim 


was to get possession of the road running to Baltimore, 
which crossed our lines. But, while they came on with an 
ardor unsurpassed, it is evident that the men who had to do 
the fighting, had less confidence of success than their gen- 
eral, from the fact that they came prepared with white rags 
to shake at us, to forgive their boldness, and allow them to 
pass meekly to the rear, when it became too hot for 

As the heavy musketry died away on the right, an 
ominous silence unexpectedly followed for several hours 
along the rebel front. Our officers and soldiers, however, 
were not to be deceived, as it was to them but a precursor 
of another, and if possible, more desperate attempt to break 
our lines. This was finally developed by the opening at one 
o'clock, at an average distance of 1,400 yards, of the most 
galling cannonade from 150 guns from all parts of the rebel 
heights — right, left and center — that our troops had ever 
been exposed to. 

"About one p. m. on the concerted signal, our guns in 
position, nearly 150, opened fire along the entire lire 
from right to left.— Gen. Pendleton, Chief of Artilleiy, 
C. S. A. 

The air was immediately filled with shot and bursting 
shell, the latter breaking continually over and among our 
men, so that no possible cover was safe from the myriad of 
dangerous missiles flying about. The fields behind our 
ridges were swept of all living things, on all portions of our 
extended line, the cracking, ragged iron was continually 
searching for mortals to destroy. This dreadful sounding, 
direful racket, this storm of raining projectiles with their 
demoniac sounds — shrieking music — in all its terrific grandeur 
of flash and crash, peril and destruction, was kept up con- 
tinuously for at least two hours; our cannon replying more 


or less for a time, until by Gen. Meade's order they gave no 
further response. From which, it appears, Gen. Lee con 
eluded he had effectually silenced our batteries ; wherein he 
erred, as his deluded, though faithful troops soon found out, 
to their everlasting sorrow and injury. On some points in 
our line, the most exposed places, considerable loss occurred 
both among infantry and artillery. Men, horses, cannon 
wdieels, axles, caisson boxes, were literally piled up— fearful 
evidences of range and destruction. 

Shells burst in the air, in the ground to the right and 
left, killing horses, exploding caissons, overturning tomb- 
stones, and smashing fences. There was no place of safety. 
In one regiment 27 were killed and wounded by one shell, 
and 3'et the regiments of this corps (11th) did not move 
excepting when ordered. — Howard. 

pickett's charge. 

At three o'clock this terrific artillery prelude as suddenly 
ceased. Now the rebel purpose was at once developed, for 
from out their hiding places in the wooded covers, as if by 
magic, appeared long lines of battle stretching across almost 
the entire plain. Opposite our center, where Hancock was 
stationed with the 2d and 3d corps, to which point their 
wings gradually converged, came a handsome looking line 
of battle well closed up, as steady as if on review: 15 regi- 
ments of Virginians — Pickett's division of Longstreet's 
corps — equally divided into three brigades under Gens. 
Garnett, Kemper and Armistead. These fresh arrivals, for 
they had come up that morning, represented the "first fam- 
ilies," and as they advanced on, chanting their battle songs, 
they were for the moment the admiration of thousands of 
patriot eyes; but for a short time only, for soon those 
"silenced batteries" of ours, began to play havoc in their 


ranks, and amid the great smoke and fire, their formation 
was for a time lost sight of. On they came, regardless of 
exploding shells, to be followed at shorter range by the rak- 
ing canister as they crossed the Emmitsburg road. Soon 
coming within short range, our troops were "up and at 
them," their songs turned into yells, and with a grand rush 
unmindful of results, heeding not their shattering ranks, 
they poured down on our center. Now the contest waged 
furious, both sides closing in, striving to repel ; continuous 
streams of fire from rebel muskets dropping Union soldiers 
fast, while great gaps were cut into the solid ranks of the 
Virginians by our responding shots, to be closed up by 
others behind— to meet the same fate. Union cannon from 
right to left, mowing down their lines, contributed to the 

"Camion to right — 
Cannon to left- 
Cannon in front — 
Volley'd and thunder'd." 

And yet, with the withering musketry on all sides, oblique 
and direct, it seemed only to make them more determined to 
break our lines. Perfectly reckless of life they dashed on, 
forward to the fence, to the stone wall at the foot of the hill. 
Here it became hand-to-hand. Bullets and bayonets, even 
the musket butts were used ; the enemy struggling to cross 
the fence, to scale the wall. Officers and men tumbled over 
continually, whole lines fell. On their left, Kemper goes 
down, then Garnett on the right, and finally Armistead in 
the center of a handful of men, falls dead within our lines, 
his hands on Union cannon. For a moment there had been 
a grave doubt, the enemy were piercing our lines— crossing 
the fatal stone wall— but with loud cheers heard above the 


noi?e and fury of battle, our men dashed into the breach 
and the danger was over. 

"Amaze and terror seized the rebel host." 

Their colors went down, the stars and stripes waved 
aloft, they broke and were driven back dismayed, a scatter- 
ing remnant of a mighty host, while thousands of their 
dead and wounded stretched far along their path. Though 
defeated, they were brave foes, and were awarded the high- 
est praise by our troops, for their gallantry displayed in 
this daring assault. 

"Their valor shown upon our crests to-day, 
Hath taught us how to cherish such high deeds, 
Even in the bosom of our adversaries." 

The brunt of the main attack was on the brigades of 
Webb, Hall and Harrow, of Gibbon's division, 2d corps. 
Webb's men were for a time driven in, but rallying, led on 
by Webb in person, they joined with Hall and Harrow in 
the final charge. The great struggle lasted an hour, in that 
time this division lost 1,600 out of 3,800 engaged, captur- 
ing 2,500 of the enemy. Alex. Hays' division claims tohave 
brought in 1,500 with 15 battle-flags. 

This brigade captured nearl}* 1,000 prisoners, six battle- 
flags, and picked up 1,400 stand of arms. The conduct of 
the brigade was most satisfactory. Officers and men did 
their whole duty. The enerrn^ would probably have suc- 
ceeded in piercing our lines had not Col. Hall advanced with 
several of his regiments to my support. — Gen. Webb. 

Capt. Coates, of the 1st M ': anesota, in Harrow's brigade, 
says this regiment captured 500 of the enemy with the 
colors of the 28th Virginia, they again meeting with heavy 
loss. "Company L was detached as sharpshooters to sup- 
port Kirby's battery, where it did effective service." 


The Vermont brigade, which was stationed in a grove 
some distance in front of the left center, performed an im- 
portant part in the repulse as the enemy came up, by ob- 
taining flank and oblique fires on their right, sweeping them 
down, the enemy, however, simply breaking to the rear 
from that side, closing in behind without stopping in their 
forward movement. The Vermonters lost in all, 350 men, 
Gen. Stannard being among the wounded, although he hung 
on. The 20th New York (militia) also of the 1st corps, 
rushing through the slashing on the slope at the critical 
moment, closed in on the enemy in gallant style up to the 
fence, where after a give-and-take contest, they greatly 
assisted in forcing them back, capturing many of their oppo- 

The Excelsior brigade of the 3d corps, composed of New 
York troops, also lost very heavily, particularly on the 
second day, as per the official report of the commander: 

The strength of the brigade at the commencement of the 
action was 1,837 officers and men, out of which we lost 778, 
being nearly 45 per cent, of the entire number, showing the 
terrible fire to which we were exposed. — Wm. R. Brewster, 
Col. Commdg. 

Col. Stoughton of the Sharpshooters was standing by 
Gen. Stannard when the latter was wounded. The same 
spherical shot, he said, that wounded Gen. Stannard, killed 
a Dartmouth college student named White, of his regiment. 
Speaking of the services of the Sharpshooters, Stoughton 
said of Col. Berdan— "to whom the country is indebted for 
raising this most efficient corps of men." 

One of Company E's men (Second Regiment), Eli A-. Wil- 
lard, of Vermont, a crack shot, failing to discover a certain 
rebel sharpshooter, a dangerous customer, came to Gen. 
Stannard, requesting the loan of his glass, saying as he took 


it : "I guess now, I'll find that fellow." He soon reported 
back: "I've found him," pointing to a tree near the 
Emmitsburg road. Willard then went out in front of a 
large bowlder, took careful aim and fired — there was no 
further annoyance from that quarter. The first sergeant of 
this company, W. H. Proctor, credited Willard with having 
fired 100 rounds that afternoon. He also relates another 
incident, which is in substance as follows: 

Gen. Birney sent an aid to the Second Regiment, lying 
at the time behind the 14th Vermont of Stannard's brigade, 
to obtain volunteers to silence a battery out near theCodori 
House, whereupon the whole regiment jumped up ready to 
go, but the aid said he would take only forty. These were 
at once furnished by detailing five from each of the eight 
companies, placing them in charge of an officer. They were 
deployed, starting for the battery with a rush and a yell. 
The battery loaded with canister expected to mow them all 
down, but as soon as our men came in range, they dropped 
from view, crawling forward to sheltered positions to put 
in their work. Soon every horse with the battery was 
either shot or run back; a few minutes later the gunners 
fired their canister — hit or miss — then ran away, abandon- 
ing the battery. Our men kept those guns quiet all that 

Company B distinguished themselves assisting Daniel's 
battery during a critical period of the fighting, handling 
the guns in changing position, obtaining new range, etc. 
It was a purely voluntary act, in which state pride was 
naturally enough one of the causes, all being Michigan 

Among the many sad events, was the death of Lieut. 
Cushing, commanding a battery in connection with Webb's 
brigade. Although wounded in both thighs, he refused to 
leave the field while his ammunition lasted. 


Lieut. Cushing, of Battery A, 4th U. S. artillery, chal- 
lenged the admiration of all who saw him. Three of his 
limbers were blown up and changed with the caisson 
limbers under fire. Several wheels were shot off his guns 
and replaced, till at last, severely wounded himself, his 
officers all killed or wounded, and with but cannoneers 
enough to man a section, he pushed his gun to the fence in 
front, and was killed while serving his last canister into the 
ranks of the advancing enemy. — Col. Hall. 

In the midst of the battle, Gens. Hancock. Gibbon and 
Doubleday were wounded. Gen. Hancock, however, 
remained on the field directing the movements in his front 
until the fighting was over, when he retired. He said he 
had been struck with a 10-penny nail. Luckily for him and 
the army, it wasn't an ounce bullet or a fragment of shell; 
as it was, the wound was a serious one. 

But while this savage battle was going on in the center, 
thetroops of Pettigrewand Trimble of Heth's and Pender's 
divisions of the Confederate army, advanced on the left of 
Pickett, towards the lines of the 1st and 11th corps on our 
right, and were driven back with great loss — the rout was 

The whole mass gave way, some fleeing to the front, 
some to the rear, and some through our lines, until the 
whole plain was covered with unarmed rebels, waving 
coats, hats, and handkerchiefs, in token of a wish to sur- 
render.— Col. Sawyer, 8th Ohio. 

A thoroughly dejected mob. The 8th Ohio was well 
advanced to the front for two days, having been detached 
from Gen. Carroll's command, posted to the left of the 11th 
corps line; where they got in some stunning flank fires at 
100 yards distance, breaking the line, swooping on to them 
with wild hurrahs, taking in 200 prisoners and three stand 
of colors. It was one of those individual instances of 
great gallantry and determination. The regiment lost 


heavily in the two days' fight, their casualties running up to 
100. They captured the colors of the 34th North Carolina 
and 38th Virginia, having another flag stolen by a staff 
officer, who ought to have been cashiered. 

The 3d corps had been kept in reserve as a support to 
both 1st and 2d corps, Birney's division behind the 1st. 
Gen. Newton commanding 1st corps, says: "I made 
arrangements with Gen. Birney to draw upon him for such 
support as might be needed, and express my obligations 
for the cheerful and handsome manner in which he responded 
to every call made on him." Although the corps rested on 
their arms subject to call, the Sharpshooters were out to 
the front in different positions. Companies C, I, and K, 
under Capt. Baker were protecting batteries of the 5th 
corps, on our left, and Col. Trepp says: "On this occasion, 
Corp. Wellington Fitch, of Company C, distinguished 
himself by making a bold reconnoissance alone, which 
resulted in capturing a squad of rebel sharpshooters that 
greatly annoyed our artillery." 

Lieut. E. A. Wilson, who was in command of Company 
C, says Baker's orders were to clear the front of Little 
Round Top of the enemy's sharpshooters, which was done, 
driving them off and capturing a lieutenant and 30 men. 


This forbidden spot was situated in the hillside front- 
ing Little Round Top about 300 yards distant, with a 
marshy interval or swamp intervening; and consisted of a 
hole in the rocks, or cavern, with a small opening, with 
blasted, barren surroundings. A fitting resort for witches, 
freebooters — and rebel sharpshooters, who occupied it that 
day, with whom the Michigan men scattered behind the 
bowlders at the foot of Little Round Top were kept busy 
exchanging shots for a long time, as also with other John- 
nies lodged behind bowlders in the vicinity of the den. 


Finally, having expended a great deal of ammunition, it 
was determined to stop their firing at all hazards, our 
artillery above being considerably annoyed, suffering loss 
from this continual shooting. For this purpose a detail of 
20 men was made by Richard W. Tyler, at that time a 
sergeant of Company K, a gallant soldier who had dis- 
tinguished himself on previous occasions. "With a rush 
these brave fellows ran across the marsh, and having routed 
the enemy's pickets in front of the hill, closed in upon them 
capturing the entire party. There were 20 of them caught 
in the cave, a number being wounded, and they assured our 
men that their fire from the Little Round Top had made 
them prisoners all day. It was made too hot for them to 
attempt an escape. They were a sorry looking crowd, 
being very hungry and about famished for want of w r ater. 
They were much alarmed at being caught, because as sharp- 
shooters they expected no quarter, and begged lustily for 
their lives, nor would they scarce believe Sergt. Tyler's 
assurance that they would be treated as fairly as other 
prisoners, until they learned that their captors were Berdan 
Sharpshooters, when a sudden change came over their 
dejected spirit to one of undisguised happiness. That old 
idea that sharpshooters would be strung up, was discarded 
by our men after the Peninsula campaign. 

This sortie by our boys (every one of whom would be 
mentioned if I knew their names) was a most gallant and 
dangerous undertaking, and it was singular that notwith- 
standing the brisk fire under which they advanced none 
were hurt, but narrowly escaped the fast-flying bullets, one 
man being saved by his frying pan (for they carried their 
cooking kit always), another by his rifle stock, the ball 
flattening on the barrel, while others "just missed it." But 
our Sharpshooters were fleet travelers— to and fro— and 
recked not of danger, when the order came to "go." As it 
afterwards transpired, they incurred a still greater risk 


than most of them ever knew. For in after years, when all 
was quiet at Gettysburg— the voice of war but an echo of 
the long past — with peace North and South, Gen. Manning 
of the late Confederacy visiting the place, informed Tvler, 
now a captain in the regular army, that at the time of this 
affair at Devil's Den, his brigade was in line of battle but a 
hundred yards in rear of the hill, and that the men we 
had captured were of his old regiment. 

In the afternoon, the Wisconsin company was ordered 
to the extreme front, assisting in repulsing the attempt of 
the enemy to break the center, in which affair a rebel 
brigade, being badly cut up, was captured with their colors. 
Amon Satterly (Co. D) remembers how, on the third day, 
Col. Berdan taking a body of Sharpshooters out, con- 
fronted aline of the enemy, and waving his hat to "come 
in " and give themselves up, they did so. 

On the next day, the 4th of July, although affairs were 
comparatively quiet, very little effort being made to resume 
the contest on either side, the Sharpshooters were again 
thrown out, in the vicinity of the peach orchard, and were 
engaged in exchanging shots with the enemy's picket lines. 
Company A formed part of a detachment sent out to bury 
the dead and bring in the wounded, which duty occupied 
the entire day, over 1,200 soldiers being found and buried. 
Lieut. E. A. Wilson (Company C) was ordered by Col. Ber- 
dan to take charge of a burial party, and found no dead 
Union soldiers as far off as were those of the Sharpshooters; 
these being in the woods near Pitzer's Run, where Lieut. 
Sheldon fell. 

The Second Regiment advanced to the Emmitsburg 
road, several hundred yards to the left of the cemetery, 
when Col. Stoughton deployed four companies to skirmish 
the field and woods in front. The enemy were driven to their 
earthworks, 200 yards distant, and the position gained was 


"held by our men throughout the day, subject to sharp firing 
from the foe, with a loss to the Second of three killed and 
eight wounded, among the latter, Lieut. Law, of Company 
E. On the morning of the 5th it was ascertained that the 
rebel army had retreated, hurrying as fast as they could 
towards the Potomac — they had enough of free soil fighting. 
The Sharpshooters were immediately sent forward to recon- 
noiter and report their movements, which was effected after 
going three miles, when the y rejoined their brigade, having 
discovered unmistakable evidence of their hasty retreat, 
with many of their wounded left behind in farm houses and 
sheds along the now deserted road. 

The Union loss at Gettysburg was 23,000. That of the 
Confederates, although at first figured up by Gen. Lee soon 
after the battle at only about 20,500, has since been ascer- 
tained to exceed 30,000. That they should have sustained 
a greater loss than the Union army is quite reasonable to 
suppose, considering the fact that they w^ere the attacking 
party. They had an opportunity to learn what Fredericks- 
burg and other important battles were to us, where our 
soldiers attacked them in their strongholds. 

The result of the campaign may be briefly stated in the 
defeat of the enemy at Gettysburg, his compulsory evacua- 
tion of Pennsylvania and Maryland, and withdrawal from 
the upper valley of the Shenandoah, and in the capture of 
three guns, 41 standards, and 13,621 prisoners; 24,978 
small arms were collected on the battle field. — Gen. 

Our casualties were severe, including many brave men 
and an unusual proportion of distinguished and valuable 
officers.— Longstreet. 

Among these officers, were the following named generals, 
killed and w^ounded: Hood, Pender, Trimble, Heth, 
Semmes, Kemper, Armistead, Scales. G. T. Anderson, Wade 


Hampton, J. M. Jones, Jenkins, Barksdale and Garnett. 
Gen. Longstreet was much opposed to the reckless assault 
on the 3d. 

The order for this attack, which I could not favor under 
better auspices, would have been revoked had I felt that I 
had that privilege.— Longstreet. 

One of the brigades of Pickett's division, according to 
Major Peyton of the 19th Virginia, "went into action with 
1,287 men and about 140 officers, and sustained a loss of 
941 killed, wounded and missing, and it is feared that those 
reported missing were killed or wounded." He also states 
that his men suffered terribly from our cannon from the 
Round Top — "a mile away" — frequently 10 at a time being 
killed by a single shell. 

Col. Berdan reported a total loss of 89, saying: "We 
went into action with about 450 rifles. During the three 
days we expended 14,400 rounds of ammunition." 

The two regiments of Sharpshooters under Col. Berdan 
and Major Stoughton, were of the most essential service in 
covering my front with a cloud of Sharpshooters, and pour- 
ing a constant and galling fire into the enemy's line of skir- 
mishers. — D. B. Birney, Major-General, commanding 

The greatest excitement prevailed through the North 
while the battle was in progress, particularly in the eastern 
cities, as it was looked upon by many as a decisive engage- 
ment that would settle the fate of one of the armies. While 
it didn't end that way, as the Confederacy was still a lively 
concern, Lee having strength enough left to get away and 
continue the war nearly two years longer, it was a decision 
against further invasions. The people became wild with joy 
when the struggle was over, and the news spread far and 


wide, of the victory for the Union on the great, glorious 
field of Gettysburg. 


Co. A. — Unknown. 

Co. B. — Wounded: Lawrence McGraw, Lewis J. Bills, 
Henry L. Conkling. 

Co. C— Wounded: Lieut. G. B. Clark, Harrison 0. 
Higby, mortal, died July 18; S. K. Roosa, mortal, W. W. 
Colwell, Don Henry Fuller. 

Co. D.— Killed: Smith Haight. Wounded: Capt. 
Charles D. McLean, mortal; Edwin E. Nelson. Captured: 
Peter H. Kipp, James H. Reed. 

Co. E. — Wounded : Charles Thatcher, mortal, died July 
22d; John B. Rand, Harrison Robertson. 

Co. F.— Killed: Sergt. A. H. Cooper. Wounded: Capt. 
E. W. Hindes, George Woolly, arm amputated; W. H. Leach, 
L. B. Grover, Charles B. Mead. 

Co. G— Killed: Sergt. Henry Lye, Privates Wm. H. 
Woodruff, Eli J. Fitch. Wounded: Privates Eli S. B.Vin- 
cent, mortal, in shoulder; Orris D. Hawley, left shoulder, 
severe; John P. Hauxhurst, left hand, severe; Levi Ingalsbee, 
shoulder, severe; Abner Johnson, finger, slight. Missing: 
Private Samuel Hall, captured. 

Co. H— Wounded: Sergt. John T. Schermerhorn, 
severely, but would not accept a discharge, preferring to 
serve his term out, which he did. 

Co. I.— Killed: Lieut. George W. Sheldon, Lewis Girich- 
ton. Wounded: Lieut. H. C. Garrison (commanding), 
Sergt. Henry Burrows, Edwin Cramer. 

Co. K.— Wounded : William Clelland, right hip, severe; 
Edwin B. Parks, slight. 

The regimental surgeon, Dr. John W. Brennan, was 
severely wounded while engaged at his duties on the field. 
Col. Berdan had his horse shot under him. 



Lieut. Dyer Pettijohn, of Company A, Second Regiment, 
■who was taken prisoner on the afternoon of. the 2d, 
remained in the hands of the. enemy until the close of the 
war. In this officer's case came up a question of rank with- 
out muster. It appears that just previous to the Gettys- 
burg battle he had received a second lieutenant's commis- 
sion, but had been unable to muster, therefore when captured 
was still a first sergeant. When he came home, the claim 
for second lieutenant was allowed and paid in full. 

Col. Berdan makes especial mention in his report of the 
following officers coming under his notice, preceded with the 
statement that "the entire command, with very few excep- 
tions, behaved most gallantly." Officers mentioned are: 
Col. Lakeman and Major Lee, 3d Maine, for their services 
on the reconnoissance, also Capt. Nash; Major Stoughton 
and Capt. Baker for their judgment and skill in handling 
their troops under fire; also Lieut. Norton. 

While this battle was pending, Col. Peteler was in 
Washington intending to join his command, where he 
arrived June 24th, and, reporting to Gen. Halleck, was told 
he could not just then get to his regiment, owing to Stuart's 
cavalry raid, so ordered him to report to Gen. Heintzelman 
in charge of the defense of Washington. To describe the 
feeling existing at the capitol at that exciting period of war 
times, Col. Peteler was told by some Union officers in the 
city, that if he wanted to find his regiment, all he had to do 
was to wait a short time in Washington, the regiment 
would come to him; showing that they did not look for the 
glorious victory that followed. Finally, he received notice 
through the war department that one of the last acts done 
by Gen. Hooker as army commander was to accept his res- 
ignation June 23d, which he had tendered the winter before, 
but at that time was refused. This news was disappoint- 
ing to Col. Peteler who had wished it was lost or destroyed, 
as he had been trying to withdraw it. 


The 3d corps left Gettysburg at three a. m. of July 7th, 
commanded by Gen. French, with a third division added, 
making nine brigades in all of infantry, besides the usual 
artillery brigade. Our troops were now rushing after Lee, 
who had a good 48-hours start, and was as anxious to get 
back to Virginia as Meade was to prevent him. 

The Sharpshooters were not well pleased with thetreat- 
ment received at the hands of some of the Pennsylvania 
farmers, notwithstandingthe rebel guns were plainly within 
their hearing; while the Marylanders cheered them on and 
"treated the boys splendidly." They not only sold them 
food at reasonable rates, but contributed many things — 
often took no pay. This difference in disposition and feel- 
ing seemed very strange to the soldiers, and the only way 
they could account for it, was, in the language of one of the 
"phunny phellows" of the regiment, "all owing to the way 
the human twig was bent." 

The marching now averaged about 20 miles a day, via 
Emmitsburg, Frederick and over the Antietam battle field 
en route to the Potomac. The enemy succeeded in crossing 
at Williamsport the night of the 13th— nine days after leav- 
ing Gettysburg — without a battle. This was just as disap- 
pointing to the troops as it was to the northern public. It 
is true that a portion of our army ran into them near Wil- 
liamsport, where on frowning heights they awaited our 
coming, and where the Second Regiment were anxious for 
another fight, — begged to get up to the enemy's position, — 
but, as no attack was made, they slipped away into Vir- 
ginia, their own chosen ground ; and there our army con- 
tended with them ever after. There were no more northern 
raids — that much was accomplished. 

On the morning of the 5th, it was ascertained the enemy 
was in full retreat by the Fairfield and Cashtown roads. 
The 6th corps was immediately sent in pursuit on the Fair- 
field road, and the cavalry on the Cashtown road and by 


the Emmitsburg and Monterey Passes. July 5th and 6th 
were employed in succoring the wounded and burying the 

Major-Gen. Sedgwick, commanding the 6th corps, hav- 
ing pushed the pursuit of the enemy as lar as the Fairfield 
Pass in the mountains, and reporting that the pass was a 
very strong one, in which a small force of the enemy could 
hold in check and delay for a considerable time any pursuing 
force, I determined to follow the enemy by a flank move- 
ment, and accordingly, leaving Mcintosh's brigade of cav- 
alry and Neill's brigade of infantry to continue harassing 
the enemy, put the army in motion for Middletown, Md. 
Orders were immediately sent to Major-Gen. French at 
Frederick to reoccupy Harper's Ferry and send a force to 
occupy Turner's Gap, in South Mountain. I subsequent! v 
ascertained Major-Gen. French had not only anticipated 
these orders in part, but had pushed a cavalry force to Wil- 
liamsport and Falling Waters, where they destroyed the 
enemy's pontoon bridge and captured its guard. Buford 
was at the same time sent to Williamsport and Hagers- 
town. The duty above assigned to the cavalry was most 
successfully accomplished, the enemy being greatly harassed, 
his trains destroyed, and many captures of guns and prison- 
ers made. After halting at Middletown to procure neces- 
sary supplies and bring up the trains, the army moved 
through the South Mountain, and by July 12th was in 
front of the enemy, who occupied a strong position on the 
heights of Marsh Run, in advance of Williamsport. In tak- 
ing this position several skirmishes and affairs had been 
had with the enemy principally by the cavalry and the 11th 
and 6th corps. The 13th was occupied in reconnoissances 
of the enemy's position and preparations for attack, but, 
on advancing on the morning of the 14th, it was ascertained 
he had retired the night previous by a bridge at Falling 
Waters and the ford at Williamsport. The cavalry in pur- 
suit overtook the rear guard at Falling Waters, capturing 
two guns and numerous prisoners." — Gen. Meade. 

On the 17th of July the Sharpshooters crossed the river 
at Harper's Ferry, and marching along the base of the 


mountains by Snicker's Gap and Upperville, proceeded to 
Manassas Gap where, as skirmishers, they took part in the 
battle known as 


July 23, 1863. 

This was a brisk action; the First Sharpshooters were in 
it to the extent of 60 rounds per man, during which time 
the\' drove the enemy back over a mile to their main force 
on the hill. Here they halted in the thick brush as they 
could proceed no farther, having fired away all their ammu- 
nition, being afterwards relieved by infantry- . A brigade 
(the Excelsiors) then charged up the hill, driving the foe off, 
obtaining and holding their position. The Second Sharp- 
shooters supported the first in the fight. 

Companies F and K were together, and advanced on the 
extreme left of our line. After going 100 yards into the 
woods they met the foe stuck behind trees, waiting for our 
boys to come up. The enemy failed to hold their ground, 
retreating a half-mile through the wood, out into a timothy 
field containing scattering trees which they were glad to 
take advantage of. Some sharp shooting now took place, 
in which Lieut. Thorp — always grabbing a gun — Corp. 
Israel B. Tyler and a Company F man distinguished them- 
selves, to the loss of the Johnnies, along with six prisoners 
sent back by Thorp in charge of Corp. Hall. Driving the 
rest away, the line advanced down a hill, across a ravine 
to the top of another hill where they halted, while the 
infantry charged over and beyond them. 

Gen. Ward commanding 1st division says: "I ordered a 
portion of the 1st and 3d brigades forward to support the 
skirmishers and drive the enenrv out. This order was coun- 


termanded, and the 2d (Excelsior) brigade, 2d division, was 
ordered to report to me for that purpose. * * The 

enemy could now plainly be seen in three heavy columns, 
moving southward by the flank." 

Col. Farnum, commanding Excelsior brigade : " Arriving 
near Wapping Station, we were massed by divisions, and,, 
taking the hills upon the right side of the road, advanced to 
the crossing at that station ; then, crossing to the left range 
of hills, we were advanced close upon the line of skirmish- 
ers of the 1st division, 3d corps, arriving and halting at, 
about four p. m. At about five p. m. we were informed by 
Gen. Spinola, commanding the brigade, that he had received 
orders from Gen. Prince to march the brigade through a 
defile up to the skirmish line, for the purpose of assaulting 
the enemy on a hill in our front. On the promulgation ol 
this order, the brigade, marching left in front, proceeded to 
the designated position, and was there formed in line of 
battle. The order was given to fix bayonets and charge 
the line in front of us. * * * Arriving on the crest of 
the hill, driving the enemy before us, we found the work 
but half done, the enemy being in strength on two hills in 
front of us, the farther being held by their artillery. The 
brigade charged on, returning the enemy's fire, taking 
prisoners, and carrying all before it. At this time Gen. 
Spinola fell seriously wounded, and the command of the 
brigade devolved upon me by seniority." 

To show the strait the Sharpshooters were in with their 
empty guns, while awaiting the approach of the supports— 
the charging brigade— the following anecdote is given : 


Lute Harrington, of Company F, a short, stout, well 
rounded little fellow, full of fun and high spirited, having fin- 
ished his shooting for want of cartridges, went to picking 
blackberries which hung in endless quantities on the bushes 
about them, for the boys would shoot and pick, and when 
their ammunition was gone went for the berries with both 
hands, their rifles slung across their shoulders. A foreign. 


officer noticing this through his glass, exclaimed: "Mine 
Got ! vat kind of men have we got up dere to pick blackber- 
ries on der skirmish line? " Well, Lute was helping himself 
to the berries with his rifle slung behind his shoulder. Mov- 
ing through the thicket, casting quick glances along the line 
to be sure he was in his place, he suddenly came out into an 
open space slap upon a couple of Johnnies, one of whom was 
in the act of firing his piece as Lute surprised them — and 
himself too. But without an instant's hesitation, he aimed 
his rifle at the one whose gun might be loaded (he had just 
seen the other empty his), and in stentorian tones ordered 
him to "drop that gun or I'll make a hole through you, big 
enough to run a freight car." The man standing with the 
muzzle of his musket in his hand, the butt on the ground, let 
it fall at once, when the other reb was made to do the same. 
Now said Lute: "Gee about here! and be quick about it." 
He drove them around faced to our rear, marching them 
back to the provost guard. Twice on the way the larger 
man of the two stopped, as if minded to clinch the little fel- 
low and wipe him out ; but Lute walked right up to him 
swearing he would let daylight through him. The reb took 
a look into the black muzzle of the Sharps rifle, and fancying 
he could see a load coming out, concluded to keep on. When 
the provost was reached, the one -who had given the most 
trouble, turned fiercely upon our little game-cock, shook his 

fist and shouted : "You little Yankee, if I had a charge 

in my gun you would never got me here." "And if I had a 
load in mine," said Lute, "I'd never asked you to come 
here." " Wasn't your gun loaded ? " faltered the now crest- 
fallen rebel. Lute held up his rifle and threw down the 
breech block, not a sign of a load there. They had been 
tricked — captured by a boy with an empty rifle. Unuttera- 
ble rage swelled the forms of the two prisoners, as with 
clinched teeth they cursed all Yankees and Yankee tricks, 


while the little bluffer went back to the line, roaring 

Capt. Aschmann in his German report makes the follow- 
ing interesting statement: "The enemy were moving on the 
west side of the Blue Ridge towards Richmond, while our 
army were following on the east side, for the purpose of 
either forcing him to a stand, or to interpose between him 
and his capitol. The march was very exhausting, the heat 
intense, and several of our company (A) were sunstruck. 
On the 20th July we entered Upperville, a small village, 
where our cavalry had an engagement a month before, and 
wc had to bury a number of dead horses before we could 
select a camping ground. In the afternoon of the 22d our 
army corps resumed its march to Manassas Gap, a moun- 
tain pass, where from information received, the enemy was 
contemplating a passage, we arriving there after excessive 
fatigue about ten o'clock at night. The next morning our 
regiment was pushed forward to sound the enemy's position, 
and we soon discovered his outposts, — a strong position 
protected by bowlders and stone fences, — and a spirited 
engagement of nearly two hours' duration took place. The 
enemy offered a most stubborn resistance, and was only put 
to flight after a desperate hand-to-hand encounter, whereby 
we lost many of our companies' best men. An assault by 
our infantry finally put an end to the carnage, driving the 
enemy into retreat. It appears that only a small portion of 
the hostile army had been engaged, put forth for the purpose 
of giving time to enable their main body to get away with 
the rich plunder in horses and' cattle carried away from 
Pennsylvania, part of which was, however, - recovered by 
our cavalry near Ashby Gap." 

During this engagement, Private Wesley Armfield, who 
had been detailed in the Pioneer corps, not liking that way 
of serving his country, left them in the rear, and rushing to 
the front, passed to the flank of his company (G), proceed- 


ing to a house in the distance. Soon after, he returned with 
several prisoners having, he said, "cut off their communica- 
tions with his axe." He then reported to his company for 
duty, and with several others a short time after, received 


Co. B. — Killed : Thomas E. Carey. Wounded : Charles 
W. Dutcher. 

Co. C— Wounded: Capt. James H. Baker, left foot. 

Co.G. — Wounded: Sergt. William Babcock, left eye, lost; 
William E. Wheeler, slight^ in right arm. 

Co. I. — Wounded: Albert J. Sisson. 

On the 24th they marched along, encamping three miles 
from Warrenton on the 26th. They again moved on the 
31st and encamped in the vicinity of White Sulphur Springs, 
where the troops, exhausted by a fatiguing campaign of 
over 50 days, obtained that rest so greatly needed. 

"The Confederate army retiring to the Rapidan, a posi- 
tion was taken with this (Union ) army on the line of the 
Rappahannock, and the campaign terminated about the 
close of July." — Gen. Meade. 

In this camp they remained over six weeks, with drills 
and picket duties to occupy their time. A sharp watch was 
kept at the outposts for prowling cavalry, or as they were 
generally termed, bands of guerrillas. Sickness again 
prevailed and in consequence, a number of men were lost to 
the regiment by being sent to northern hospitals, or by 
discharge direct. The sulphur springs were frequently 
visited by the men, who drank of its waters, but generally 
with wry faces, and if it did them no good, they said it was 
as tasty as sutler's eggs— to the loss of the sutler. Changes 
occurred in commissioned and non-commissioned officers 


in rank and position. In First Regiment Lieut. Aseh- 
mann, Company A, became acting-adjutant, Capt. Marble, 
of Company G, field officer, under Col. Trepp commanding 
(Col. Berdan having left for Washington soon after Gettys- 
burg), while Lieut. Stevens assumed command of the Wis- 
consin company. 




On Sept. 15th at six p. m. we broke camp, and, after 
marching two hours slowly, halted after dark in a piece of 
woods near the road. On the following day marched right 
along until after dark, resting in a cornfield near Culpeper, 
having forded the Hedgeman and Hazel forks of the Rap- 
pahannock. Many fell out on this dax^'s march from fatigue, 
rejoining their companies the next morning. It is just 
possible that foraging had something to do with it, as a 
number of turkeys were found in the regiment — and the 
boys took good care of them. They were protected — from 
the gaze of the officers, so they didn't have to divide. On 
the 17th marching beyond Culpeper two and one-half miles 
west, they encamped on the right of the Sperryville pike. 
At this camp a large amount of green clothing, with over- 
coats (which were the regulation blue) and blankets 
formerly turned in, were received and distributed. While 
here the First Sharpshooters left Ward's 2d brigade, being 
assigned to the 3d brigade commanded by Col. DeTrobriand 
— the Second Sharpshooters remaining with Ward. In the 
history of Company A in "Minnesota in the Civil War," 


is related the following incident occurring on this campaign, 
but it is an error in say ing the general was Hancock, who 
was absent from the arm}' during the fall of '63, account of 
his Gettysburg wound. 

"In the fall of 1863, while advancing towards Culpeper 
Court House, the regiment - having the skirmish line moved 
too slowly. Gen. Hancock stated to the officer in command 
that the army was waiting on them. The officer replied 
that he doubted if any other regiment could do better. 
Gen. Hancock ordered Second Sharpshooters to the front. 
Riding to the side of the regiment he said: 'Boys, I have 
promised that you would go through there; I think you 
will.' One hour later the general sent his compliments, 
requesting that they slacken their speed, as the army was 
not keeping in supporting distance. The rebels never liked 
the long range rifles." 

The Union telegraph was extended as the troops 
advanced, being put up by experienced hands in a rapid 
manner. The lines were kept right up with us. Good log 
cabin and board shanties w r ere built in this vicinity by the 
men, which served at least for exercise, but not for use long 
— three weeks being the length of their stay in this section. 


"Poor old soldier, poor old soldier, 
Tarred and feathered 
And then drummed out, 
Because he wouldn't soldier." 

At this camp an unfortunate soldier who had been 
dishonorably discharged by court-martial, was drummed 
out of service by members of his company to the tune of 
the "Rogue's March," in words as above. This disagree- 
able duty to the company comrades, who generally dis- 
like to go through the rjerformance, is conducted in this 


manner: The culprit is marched through camp between 
two files of soldiers, with inverted bayonets — arms reversed 
— in the front rank reaching almost to the doomed man's 
body, and a full charge bayonet from behind. Sometimes 
the man's head is shaved, the U. S. buttons always cut off, 
and in very serious cases he is branded. 

While in this vicinity the members of Company B on 
picket were considerably agitated over the loss over night 
of their second lieutenant, Theodore Wilson, who was 
known to have strayed outside the lines. As he came back 
at just day-break, it was rumored and became a standing 
joke on that officer, that his search for chickens turned to 
playing Romeo to some Confederate Juliet ; but discovering 
that the latter enticed him on for the purpose of his cap- 
ture, he too loyal to be thus tricked, started back, though 
too late, and had to lie in the bush until daylight. As it 
rained hard and there was considerable mud, the officer 
evidently fared hard, from the sorry plight he presented on 
appearing before his company — and that's where the laugh 
came in. 


From about the 17th of September to October 10th, 
the Arm} r of the Potomac had advanced as far as the line of 
the Rapidan. At the latter date we became convinced that 
another move was in order on the military chess board, by 
the sounding of the long roll by drum and bugle, followed 
by an order to fall in, quickly. So hastily packing up, we 
were soon ready to march, and not long after, left our new 
camp, — one of our best ones, — and, being maneuvered about 
some little time in the woods as picket scouts and skirmish- 
ers, were finally drawn up in line of battle in an open field 


west of Culpeper prepared for an attack. Here we remained 
all night without much sleep, under strict orders to be 
ready for whatever might transpire. 

The next morning (11th) at an early hour, we began 
retracing our steps toward the Rappahannock. While rest- 
ing a few moments on the way, we were disturbed by a shot 
fired on the left flank. Soon after, more followed, and has- 
tily falling in, we were sent out as skirmishers, rebel horse- 
men having been discovered prowling around. Companies 
G and B were used as a support to the left of the line. After 
feeling our way about a half a mile through the brush and 
open field we were assembled, on learning that a small body 
of rebel cavalry had passed by, which were no longer to be 
seen. We captured one man in gray uniform. 

Not long after, we were again in the column marching 
on, whither, we knew not, although apparently falling back. 
The roads were good, the weather cool, therefore notwith- 
standing packed knapsacks and haversacks with 60 rounds 
of ammunition weighed heavily, the men made good time, 
crossing Hazel river by pontoon late in the afternoon, ford- 
ing the Hedgeman knee deep at night about ten o'clock; 
finally resting a mile beyond on a hill-side tired, hungry, 
somewhat wet and many muddy, having been so unfortu- 
nate as to slip on the muddy sides of the numerous streams 
we crossed, causing a fall, which while loaded down as 
stated, tried their utmost patience, especially should a rifle 
hammer or muzzle hit one on the head, as was sometimes 
the case. The following morning (12th), we were astir 
early and after marching a short distance, northerly, 
retraced our steps, taking up a position on the bank of the 
Hedgeman, near the ford. Some firing was heard during 
the day, right and left, fighting evidently going on. The 
day previous we witnessed from a distance Kilpatrick's cav- 
alry charge, away to our right, easterly; but notified that 


he conld take care of the force pressing him, that we had 
better keep moving, we left him and his troopers to worst 
his opponents — which he did effectually. 

Left the Hedgeman early on the 13th, moving back 
towards Warrenton Junction, leaving Sulphur Springs to 
our left. On several occasions were ordered to be ready to 
meet the enemy as they were known to be moving with us, 
their cavalry hovering on our flanks; at one time drawing 
up in line of battle, and the 5th division of the Sharpshoot- 
ers — Companies G and B — were sent out over a wide, open 
waste or plain to another road at a point of woods three- 
fourths of a mile from the main body, which latter were 
finely posted on an elevated position. As the ranking offi- 
cer, I had orders to "hold that point against any approach 
in that direction." Good enough to tell, if they didn't come 
too thick for the small force sent so far away to hold "all 
comers at bay." On reaching this isolated position, we 
found ourselves reinforced by two companies of Maryland- 
ers, giving us a better show for resistance. Here we 
remained for a short time, watching well thefront, when we 
were signaled to return, as the enemy were reported ahead. 
Not long after, firing was heard, and the booming of cannon 
told us that a fight was in progress. So we again pushed 
on, hurrying back to the main road on double-quick to 
catch up, — a very fatiguing performance loaded down as the 
men were with ammunition and equipments — our regiment 
being a good ways ahead. 




Oct. 13, 1863. 

Leaving the 
road by file left, 
we were soon aft- 
er drawn up in 
line of battle, Gen. 
French ordering 
the regiment in 
on a charge, none 
other being at 

W^W%sWM^\W§ hand - When in - 

formed as we were 
coming up that: 
"These are Sharp- 
shooters, gener- 
al," he replied: 
"Well, no matter, those fellows can fight any way." So, 
immediately fixing bayonets, we were soon off over an open 
field towards a piece of woods 300 yards away, from 
whence shots were being rapidly fired ; our loud war crv 
addingto the general excitement, evidencing a determination 
to get there. 

When Companies G and B arrived, the\^camein on a run 
— it made them puff— and passing the balance of the regi- 
ment wailing for them, without relaxing speed formed into 
line in their places on the left, when the regiment immediately 
moved forward taking up the double-quick and keepingthat 
lively step across the open field until they struck the woods, 
firing as they ran. It was a good line, and the general was 
pleased at their promptness and hurried movements. 


Entering the wood driving all before them, the Sharp- 
shooters kept on to the top of a hill yelling and shouting, 
where after some difficulty hearing the command, they were 
halted and scouts sent ahead. The enemy had fled from 
this part of the field, and soon after the firing on our right 
also ceased. Three rebel dead lying in the woods where we 
entered, showed that we had been engaging dismounted 
cavalry. A large body of them mounted were to be seen 
across the open field drawn up in line of battle, whereupon 
several Wisconsin men gave them a few rounds at 300 yards, 
when they skedaddled. 

Our loss was slight, two wounded in the regiment, one 
of whom was Jonathan H. Breed in right leg, a Company K 
man, who would have bled to death but for his comrade 
Joel Race binding his handkerchief around same, twisting it 
with a bayonet, until the surgeon took Breed in charge. 
The torn and ragged regimental colors received three more 
bullet holes through them. The advantage of breech-load- 
ing rifles was again made apparent, our men continually 
firing as they ran after the retreating Johnnies. Their line 
was completely broken up, and they scattered and scampered 
off in a hurry. Had this affair occurred earlier in the war, 
placed in the hands of an eastern reporter, it would proba- 
bly have been written up as — 

"A grand charge of a beautiful line of dark-green rifle- 
men, and handsome repulse of gray -jackets and butter- 

But it was too late in the war to become prominent, 
besides there were no friendly reporters about, to give us our 
just dues; which, no doubt they would have cheerfully done, 
had they been present to see for themselves the importance 
of the service performed, and by the Sharpshooters only, at 
that particular place. 

Again we were moving on, until late at night did we 
continue to march, the night being dark, the men fatigued 


and foot-sore, but there was no straggling— it was a poor 
country for stragglers. The Sharpshooters were out on 
each side of the road as flankers, a portion of the way. We 
finally rested at Greenwich; two Wisconsin men, Jacobs and 
Moore, who had got ahead of their company, being the first 
to enter the place in company with an infantry officer. We 
had marched that day over 26 miles, besides skirmishing 
and fighting. Had our troops not been well trained, inured 
to hardship, therefore in fine condition to travel, they could 
not have withstood these long, forced marches, but would 
have been left by the hundreds scattered along the road for" 

The 2d corps under Warren, bringing up the rear, had a 
sharp skirmish at Auburn the following morning, where Lee 
tried to cut them off, but failed. The importance of this 
action was in the detention of Lee's advance several hours, 
by Warren's successful maneuvering and final escape, cutting 
his way through the accumulating enemy, bringing off all 
his wagons, ambulances and ammunition — with the Confed- 
erates behind him. Lee was detained one day at Warren- 
ton (13th) provisioning his troops; so that when his 
advance struck Bristoe the next day, the Union army had 
passed that station, with the exception of the 2d corps — the 
rear guard. Gen. Meade afterwards admitted that he should 
have given the enemy battle at Auburn, but was misin- 
formed of the relative position of both armies, supposing 
Lee was ahead of him. 

"Notwithstanding my losing a day, I had moved with 
more celerity than the enemy, and was a little in his 
advance. If I had known this at the time, I would have 
given the enemy battle the next day, in the position I occu- 
pied at Auburn and Greenwich." — Meade. 

It was now rumored about, that the rebs were giving us 
a hard race for position near Bull Run and Centreville, and 


the next morning, 14th, we were quickly marching on ; the 
Sharpshooters again out as flankers — a very important 
service, as a guard against ambuscades or other surprise; 
but we were recalled on reaching the more open and exten- 
sive Manassas Plains. Crossing Broad Run, filing to the 
left and rear, we again drew up in line of battle ; but soon 
after, left and finally crossed Bull Run at Blackburn's Ford, 
the old earthworks used when the 2d Wisconsin went into 
their first fight, still to be seen. Arrived on the heights near 
Centreville in the afternoon, where we found a large portion 
of our army already in position, having arrived by different 
roads. Here we remained over night. Late in the afternoon 
w r e could see plainly the flashes that preceded the cannon's 
deep roar, in the battle then going on at Bristoe Station, in 
which the 2d corps were actively engaged checking the 
enemy's advance. 

On the 15th they marched to Fairfax Station, resting in 
the timber. That evening the 3d corps turned out without 
arms to receive their late commander, Gen. Sickles, forced to 
leave us on losing a leg at Gettysburg. He rode by the lines 
in a barouche and was received with loud cheering. The 3d 
corps liked Sickles, and heartily sympathized with him in his 
misfortune. He was a brave commander, and such officers 
had the respect and confidence of their command. 

On the 16th in the afternoon, the regiment was ordered 
out to witness the fate of a deserter, the first one to be shot 
in the corps. The first division, of which the Sharpshooters 
formed a part, was formed in two lines making three sides of 
a square. Between these lines the doomed man surrounded 
by the provost-guard, w 7 as marched solemnly behind his cof- 
fin, the band in front playing the usual march. He appeared 
resigned to his fate, walking firmly along to his last resting 
place. His looks, as he closely scanned the lines on his 
death-march, seemed to bespeak a farewell to the soldiers;, 
seemed to indicate the justness of his sentence, and his own 


deep disgrace ; that he was reconciled to his fate, realizing 
that he was — 

" In the lowest deep ; but a lower deep 
Threatening to devour me, opens wide." 

His lips moved not ; and except his glances right and 
left, a piercing look, he strode slowly along and erect, to his 
doom. After a short prayer by the chaplain attending him, 
his eyes were bandaged by the provost marshal, when he 
seated himself on the edge of the coffin which was by the 
side of the grave. Soon after, 12 muskets poured forth 
their contents at a distance of six paces, and he fell dead into 
his coffin pierced by 11 bullets, one gun containing a 
blank cartridge. The different regiments then returned to 
their respective camps solemnly impressed with the scene 
just witnessed. 

At this place considerable fault-finding existed among 
the men owing to the desperate state of the hard-tack. 

It was hard, for certain; but when on behalf of the 
company I went to headquarters full of complaints, I found 
Col. Trepp and Capt. Marble seated at a cracker box table, 
having just finished their supper. 

"Well, Stevens, what's the matter now? Considerable 
grumbling, eh ? " 

"Yes, sir. The hard-tack don't suit the boys." 

"Eh! What's that about the hard-bread— what's the 
matter with it? " 

"Well, with us, what tack hasn't been monopolized by 
worms, is full of bugs." 

"Oh! That's all, is it. Why, look here, my friend, see 
what Marble and I are about ; " and he caused me to scan 
closely that table. "There," said he, "that white worm is 
Marble's, and this hard shell bug is mine; and I've bet him 
the cigars that my bug will get across the table first." 


Of course, I had no more to say, for there sure enough 
was the bug and worm "making time " over the table, the 
fiery end of cigars hurrying them up from "the fire in the 
rear." I didn't stop to see which came out ahead, but leav- 
ing our "field and staff" laughing at me, "made tracks" 
myself en route to the company street where I reported 
accordingly. And so we had to eat the hard tack or go 
without, as no other was to be obtained. It was only what 
I expected. We had got the best to be had, and it happened 
this time to be a hard lot; and our soldiers were not used 
to that kind. On the contrary, as a general thing, Uncle 
Sam's rations with us were good; and, although we some- 
times got big round crackers, hard as flint, — the boys called 
them "B. C.'s," from their ancient appearance,— the smaller 
square ones were usually fresh and brittle, and free from 
crawlers. They didn't mind the worms so much, but the 
bugs gritted their teeth. 


At four o'clock a. m. Oct. 19th, we were aroused from 
our sleep by the shrill bugle sounding the reveille and gen- 
eral. Falling in, rapidly, the troops at daybreak moved off 
southerly, following the line of the Orange & Alexandria 
railroad until near Bristoe Station, when they halted for the 

While on Manassas Plains we found a number of per- 
simmon trees, and in consequence of the hastily bitten fruit 
many of our men puckered up their mouths to a laughable 
extent, as it was not quite ripe. They thought they had 
struck a bonanza, but didn't stop to carry it all off after 
they had got a few good bites. They were, however, paid 
for getting sold, in the fun they had over it, and considera- 


ble chaffing followed, which served to keep them in good 
spirits for many a mile after. They were always glad to 
find fruit on their route, as it generally did them good, but 
they didn't run after any more persimmons. 

On the 20th, pushed on, fording Kettle Run waist deep, 
and by mistaking the road waded another stream twice; 
finally halted for the night beyond Greenwich — Companies 
G and B being immediately detailed for picket. Moving for- 
ward the next day, after several changes of position they 
took up a new one near the picket lines at Cedar Run on the 
26th, considerable fatigue being endured at times by the 
troops, the roads being dusty and weather very warm. 

The enemy having destroyed the railroad byburningthe 
ties, bending the rails — twisting them around trees — as they 
fell back, the Union troops were employed in repairing the 
same; details being sent out daily from the different com- 
panies for that purpose. This caused much delay, and it 
looked very much as if Lee had fooled us — as he certainly 
foiled us — in getting away so easy, and apparently at his 
leisure. It was a great disappointment to the loyal North, 
also their soldiers at the front ; there being no general en- 
gagement, although our troops were never in better fight- 
ing trim than at that time. It was fine weather, and no 
better opportunity could have been offered to test the fight- 
ing capacity of the two great armies, as also the abilities of 
the respective commanders, maneuvering on open ground. 
It would probably have saved us a good deal of hard march- 
ing, and subsequent rough campaigning. And it proved to 
be the last chance to bring them together face to face in an 
open, fair fight. For Lee now retired to his breastworks 
beyond the Rapid an, to reach him thereafter we had to fight 
him on his own ground, attack his breastworks — it was 
pretty much all breastworks thereafter — until the closing 
scenes occurred a year and a half hence. 


On the 28th I distinctly remember to have labored under 
many difficulties making out pay rolls, on a cracker-box 
desk in a leaky shelter tent, the rain pouring down in tor- 
rents coming through the little canvas, there was no escap- 
ing the big drops. It was decidedly tough, but it had to be 
done if at all possible, and I succeeded after much patience, 
warding off the rain by holding a piece of board over the 
paper with one hand while I wrote with the other. On the 
29th, strange as it may appear so early in the season, we 
received orders to "prepare for winter quarters." But we 
had heard of such orders before, only to be "sold," as we 
were on this occasion. And yet old soldiers would rather 
be on the go, than to be drilling two or three times a day, 
for above all things, the volunteer soldier dislikes these 
daily drills — as a general thing he would rather fight than 
drill; particularly knapsack drills and battalion movements. 

On the 30th they made another move alongthe railroad 
line, halting in a large field where they remained several 
days. On the 3d of November the Wisconsin company voted 
for state officers, it being election day. The polls were 
opened on the picket line, each man voting as he saw fit; the 
Union ticket headed by James T. Lewis for governor, get- 
ting pretty much all the votes. The company officers were 
the judges, passing the ballot box along the line. There was 
no intimidation. 

'Twas an infernal lie, 
That copperhead cry. 

At half past two the morning of November 7th, the 3d 
corps broke temporary camp near Warrenton Junction, and 
started off at daybreak towards the Rappahannock. The 
Second Sharpshooters led the 3d brigade, taking what our 
French brigadier told Col. Stoughton was "de post of de 
honor, " the First Regiment being out as flankers. After a quiet 
and steady march along theroad leading towards Falmouth, 



they left the same at noon and striking off on another road 
leading towards the river, made a temporary halt ; but were 
soon after sent down the hill where the Sharpshooters formed 
in line of battle in advance of the other troops. 


Nov. 7, 1863. 

At half-past one in the afternoon the two regiments de- 
ployed out in skirmish line, and advancing over the open plain 
in front, soon became aware of the presence of the enemy by 
the whistling of bullets about them. The order to double- 
quick being given, away they went, driving the rebels pell- 
mell over the river, wdiere they jumped into rifle pits and 
behind works and commenced to shoot. Pressing on to the 
river bank under sharp fire from the opposite side, tempo- 
rary cover was obtained. It was now "blaze away" on 
both sides in good earnest. After some sharp exchanges 
reinforcements were observed coming down on a run 
towards a large brick building opposite the right of the 
regiment. They instantly became the object of our imme- 
diate attention, but although the fire of the riflemen was 
sharp and quick, } r et many succeeded in gaining this place 
of cover. One of these fellows began shooting at our men 
from a window above, his first — and last — shot being at 
Lieut. Thorp of "K," whose tall form as he rested on one 
knee in his company line, made him a conspicuous object. 
The shot was well made, striking a twig four feet in front of the 
officer's breast. The lieutenant at once grabbed Orville Par- 
ker's rifle and held for the window. When he put his gun and 
head out again, Thorp pulled on him. Parker said the reb's 
gun dropped to the ground outside, while the Johnny fell 
inside. They soon "skedaddled" from there, however, for 


between the rattling of the Sharpshooters' bullets and sev- 
eral Union shells from a battery that opened on the building 
with effect, the place became too hot for them, causing them 
to scatter out, — like so many bees from a hive, — receiving a 
close and heavy fire from the First Regiment, which made 
them run the faster. The B and G men being on the left of the 
line and immediately opposite the rifle pits, had long-range 
shots at these runaways, but occupied their attention mostly 
with those in front — these were vicious fellows and fired to 


A remarkable instance of fine shooting occurred at this 
time. Corp. Johnson, of Company G, upon being urged to 
give the retreating rebs a shot, although he considered the 
chances poor hitting his man at that distance, running off 
as he was, finally exclaimed: "By great! I'll try him," 
and allowing two feet for windage, drew up his rifle at 700 
yards raise of sight and fired. At the same time Lieut. 
Thorp of the adjoining company, K, asked George J. 
Fisher if he could "down that fellow." Answering: "I 
guess I can," Fisher shot just as Johnson did, and the man 
threw up his hands and went down. The fallen rebel was 
afterwards found wounded in two places, he stating that 
both shots came the same instant, one through the right 
thigh, the other the left hip. All of which, simply showed 
what our marksmen could do with the breech-loaders. 

The regiment was finally ordered to cross the river and 
charge the pits on the bank, the firing having slackened. 
Two Michigan companies, C and I, led the way, covered by 
B and G, "who kept up a sharp fire, but soon after rushed 
dow r n the slope headlong after them through the rapid 
water, — waist deep, — when the rest followed, under a gall- 
ing fire from the enemy, whereby a number were hit while 
struggling against the swift, bubbling stream. Among them 


was Lieut. Frank S. Wells, of Company B, who received a 
stunning wound in his breast, and would have fallen but 
for S. C. James, who helped him back to the water's edge, 
where others took him out. Corp. James then rushed 
straight ahead through the splashing water, over a sand 
bar to a redoubt near the river. Mounting the same he 
received the surrender and sword of a North Carolina cap- 
tain. Orville Parker, of Company K, fired into a pit just as 
the inmates had commenced waving their hats, to surren- 
der. The ball passed through one man's head and into 
another's shoulder, killing both; a terrible illustration of 
close fighting. The Michigan members had run forward in 
advance, closely followed by other companies, and when 
within 10 feet of the first pit in their front, the enemy 
rising up, fired a volley, but, being above, fortunately shot 
too high and but few were struck. Our men at once charged 
on to them, capturing at this place about 80 — "packed in 
the bottom of the pit like sardines." Oi of them, a ser- 
geant, shouted in vain for thena to pick up their guns and fire 
again — to "drive the Yankees back!" He was gritty, but 
it was his last chance to show it, as he was shot down a 
moment after. It was a lively scrimmage; but more so at 
the next pit, where through fire and smoke, mid groans and 
shrieks of wounded men, some bayoneted, others blown 
through by opposing rifles, the work was carried. Plant- 
ing the worn and tattered regimental colors on top of the 
pit, the occupants of the same were forced to surrender. 
The Vermont company, Capt. Merriman, came down on 
them in a body, the captain himself in advance, ordering the 
surrender. As he was alone at the time, they were disposed 
to bring him down from the top of the works, but when he 
called on "F" to "come up here," that settled the business. 
In all, 500 prisoners were taken, including several officers of 
highrank — all there were in their front — a number being cap- 


tured in the bushes and in the building on the right, bv indi- 
vidual members of the different companies. Those in the 
building under a major's command, were considerably sur- 
prised by Lieut. Judkins, who, approaching the house noise- 
lessly, suddenly burst in the door, and bringing down an 
axe which he carried with him, heavily to the floor, demand- 
ed in stentorian tones their immediate surrender, which 
was at once granted. Before crossing the river, Jacobs, 
Webster and Van Buren (Co. G), tried a flank movement on 
a rebel, but it was no use, the}- could not obtain a cross- 
fire on the fellow from that side of the stream. Webster 
finally gave him a polite invitation to come out of his hole 
and give himself up. But he rather roughly declined to 
comply with the request, though he was obliged to succumb 
to the force of circumstances soon after. The three soldiers 
above named, with others, were busily engaged after cross- 
ing in hunting up these scattered fellows, who were gener- 
ally found burrowed in small holes among the bushes. At 
one point the write: - was covered by a rebel musket from 
one of these holes, 50 yards distant; but Van Buren from 
the right and front coming along with his Sharps ready for 
any emergency, the Reb concluded, as he afterwards admit- 
ted, that he had better not shoot, but responded readily to 
the demand to "Get out of that hole, lively, and give up 
your gan," as the brave corporal charged on him. This 
stopped the deadly intent, and they sent him to the rear, 
with the other prisoners. 

Lieut. Connington and George H. Smith (K) discovered 
and captured seven in a ditch at the left of the ford, while 
"Little Park" (as he was called), Frederick Park, Company 
K, caught five in an old cellar, threatening to "shoot 'em all" if 
they didn't surrender; which he could hardly have done, as 
he afterwards discovered he had no load in his gun. But 
they surrendered. While crossing the river Andrew Kirkham 


just dodged awell-meant shot by jumping aside, and with a 
warning "look out, Abner," Johnson turned as the "critter 
pulled trigger," thereby escaping with a heavy whack on 
his back, the bullet striking his knapsack flattening up 
inside. Soon after, a Swiss member of Company A got the 
bottom of his frying pan knocked out on the back of his 
knapsack while faced firing to the left oblique. This made 
him very mad and he swore a lot of foreign oaths, worse than 
a trooper. For, if there is anything that will make a good 
soldier swear, it is to lose his cooking kit. 

All the companies performed well their part, and had 
good reason to feel proud of their great victory, which 
belonged to the Sharpshooters, the First Regiment doing 
the fighting, connected on their left by the Second Regiment, 
which though not so actively engaged, held an important 
position along the river below the Ford. Some of them 
joined the Wisconsin company, stating that there was not 
enough game below to keep them in sport, although (Lieut.) 
Charles H. Foote, of the Michigan company, "B," did his 
part by undressing, more or less, and plunging into the deep 
water swam the river, going out to a rifle pit where he took 
charge of the only Johnny left, not shot or who didn't run 
away, and in all his nakedness brought his captive back 
through the turbulent waters, amid the cheers of his end of 
the line. 

The prisoners were sent back across the river and turned 
over to a New York regiment, who it appears got the credit 
of capturing them by some partial, or at least mistaken, 
Eastern journals. Gen. DeTrobriand, however, our brigade 
commander — who was right there superintending the fight 
— knew better, and gave the Berdan Sharpshooters the 
credit to which they only w r ere entitled, and who were 
highly complimented by that officer for the gallantry dis- 
played in the affair. By the time that New York regiment 


or any other infantry regiment crossed over, the Sharp- 
shooters were a mile ahead, and had formed a long skirmish 
line over the open plain facing westerly. It was virtually 
Greenback against Grayback — the Blue Coats being in 

Among the many field officers gallantly engaged was 
Capt. Nash, who was constantly riding the entire line, both 
horse and rider presenting a bold mark for rebel bullets fly- 
ing thickly around him, but harmless — although he had a 
horse killed under him. 

"Never mind 'em, boys," he cried, "we'll get' em bye and 

Also, Col. Trepp, Capt. Marble and others, were con- 
spicuous for their cool demeanor, and readiness to close into 
clese quarters with the enemy, despite the uncertain river 
and other disadvantages. Lieut. Aschmann, acting adju- 
tant, had a horse shot under him. 

Having captured all at the river, the men pushed ahead 
and formed a long skirmish line fronting a piece of woods, 
the right resting at some rude and dilapidated breastworks. 
Soon after, a force of the enemy came out of the woods, 
advancing towards these works on the right. They didn't 
come far, however, the firing being too sharp for them, while 
the artillery from an eminence sent into their ranks shot and 
shell. They soon deployed out in skirmish line and lying on 
the ground, remained in that position until after dark. 
Some cavalry appeared far to our left, as if intending to 
sweep behind and cut us off from the main force at the river, 
but a dozen or more of our best long-range shots soon scat- 
tered them. 

Sergt. Allen, of F, tells of a Sharpshooter whose record 
in the past had been so good that until this day he had 
never shirked any duty assigned him, who hung back when 
we charged over the river, but came over with the fourth 


line, lying down in the first rifle pit after its capture; so fol- 
owing us a little behind until we were at the last earth- 
work, where he lav sheltered from the enemy's fire. He 
started up when the men were called for the long-range fir- 
ing on the cavalry, but immediately dropped back under 
cover as if afraid. Presently, muttering to himself: " I may 
as well try a 900 yard shot too," he half arose with his rifle 
to his face, looking towards our left. The instant the side 
of his head appeared above the work a ball passed through 
it, and he dropped at our feet— he was dead. All day he had 
a premonition of this, and struggled in vain to overcome it. 
When he showed fight his time came. 

After our regiment had crossed the Ford and formed new 
lines in advance, the main body crossed over in force, and 
soon the plain behind was full of troops. After dark, being 
relieved, we retired t© a side hill to eat and rest, all suffering 
more or less from the cold weather. The fight ended with 
darkness. The regiment lost three killed and 12 wounded. 

Some of the men lost their supper that night, and Sergt. 
Allen tells how it happened: "On being relieved we went 
back to a deserted house; a party of us going up-stairs 
started a fire in the fire-place, for the house was adorned 
with one of those old-fashioned Virginia chimneys with fire- 
places on every floor. The coarse shake fencing had been 
built up cob-house fashion and the pyramid was covered 
with the boys' cups of coffee. Set my cup on, and leaning 
back with folded arms against the far wall mentally 
reviewed the events of the day. Suddenly an explosion rent 
the air which was at once full of coffee, cups, fire-brands, 
ashes and smoke, the chimney was demolished, the boys pil- 
ing down stairs with more haste than grace. A shell from 
one of our batteries in the morning entering the back of the 
chimney without exploding, became buried in the ashes, and 
we had kindled a fire over it with a verv natural result. 


Fortunately no one was seriously injured, but we lost our 


Co. B. — Wounded: William M. Fitzgerald, mortally; 
Matthew Morgan. 

Co. C. — Killed: Henry Townsend. Wounded: Edward 
J. Southworth, leg amputated. 

Co. D. — Wounded : James H. Reed, mortally. 

Co. E.— Killed: Samuel D. Munroe. 

Co. F. — Killed: Patrick Murray. Wounded: Eugene 
Mead, Watson P. Morgan, Fitz Green Halleck. 

Co. I. — Killed: Elbridge Jewell. Wounded: James 

Co. K. — Wounded: Corp. William A. Henderson, right 
arm, severe. 

During the night the rebel force in front left, but was 
reported to have been captured by the 6th corps about four 
a. m. of the 8th, they having effected a crossing and gained 
a victory above us at Rappahannock Station, in which 
action the 5th Wisconsin took an active part, their brave 
and fearless commander, Col. Thos. S. Allen, beiug again 

Two days after, Gen. Meade issued this complimentary 
order: "The commanding general congratulates the army 
upon the recent successful passage of the Rappahannock in 
the face of the enemy, compelling him to withdraw to his 
intrenchments behind the Rapidan. 

"To Major-General Sedgwick and the officers and men of 
the Sixth and Fifth corps participating in the attack — par- 
ticularly to the storming party under Brio-adier-General 
Russell — his thanks are due lor the gallantry displayed in 
the assault on the enemy's intrenched position at Rappa- 
hannock Station, resulting in the capture of four guns, 2,000 
small arms, eight battle-flags, one bridge train, and 1,600 



" To Major-General French and the officers and men of the 
Third corps engaged — particularly to the leading column, 
commanded by Colonel DeTrobriand — his thanks are due 
for the gallantry displayed in the crossing at Kelly's Ford 
and the seizure of the enemy's intrenchments, and the cap- 
ture of over 400 prisoners. 

"The commanding general takes great pleasure in 
announcing to the army that the President has expressed 
his satisfaction with its recent operations." 

Accompanying the above was the following by command 
of Major-Gen. French: "The Major-General commanding 
the Third Army Corps, in promulgating the complimentary 
order of the general commanding the army, deems it a proper 
opportunity to express his admiration of the high soldier- 
like qualities of the officers and men of the corps exemplified 
in the forcing of the passage of the Rappahannock at Kelly's 
Ford on the 7th instant. To the fact that the river was in 
front of the enemy, and not in their rear, they are indebted 
for their escape after the storming of their intrenchments, 
saving, by a precipitate retreat over the open country 
behind them, their flags and cannon." 

On the 8th, the troops pushing on towards Brandy 
Plains, the First Sharpshooters were sent for to clear the 
way — the enemy being in front, and the skirmishers of the 
leading division failing to start them — the aid calling aloud 
for "the regiment that crossed the river the day before." 
As we had been in the lead the day before. Gen. DeTrobri- 
and didn't feel as if we ought to be double-quicked a mile or 
more ahead from the middle of the column to take the 
advance, and so the Second Regiment was called up and 
went to the front, driving the enemy away and occupying 


in handsome style, making for themselves a creditable vic- 
tory. They went through with a rush, and sent the foe fly- 
ing out of sight towards the Rapidan. 


When our regiment reached the Brandy Plains a grand 
sight was presented to their view; the different corps with 
their various flags and banners, marching on to the plain 
at the same time from different roads, thus showing the 
ability of Gen. Meade in handling large bodies of troops. It 
having been extensively rumored about, shortly after leav- 
ing the Rappahannock, that the Army of the Potomac were 
to unite in the afternoon at Brandy, for once, at least, the 
report was correct. As the head of the approaching col- 
umns entered through the openings on to the broad plain in 
front, the humorous Armfield expressed his opinion aloud, 
that it was "a fine sight for a special artist," and notwith- 
standing the thick dust that enveloped the soldiers as they 
moved along the road, "an occasion in which he could see 
particularly well." 

Arriving at Brandy, they halted for the night 
among the various corps collected together. After 
several changes, on the 10th of November the regiment went 
into camp on the farm of John Minor Botts— the once 
famous Virginia statesman — where winter quarters were 
quickly erected. So rapid were the movements of Gen. 
Meade across the Rappahannock, that the Confederates, 
taken b} r surprise, hurriedly left their log quarters in this 
vicinity, and as Mr. Botts — our informant — expressed it: 
"Hurried back in great confusion to the Rapidan, more like 
a drove of sheep than men." 

Mr. Botts seemed to occupy a neutral position in the 
war, although expressing strong Union sentiments to our 
soldiers. Relative to this once prominent Virginian, the fol- 
lowing article was taken from a Wisconsin paper in 1865: 

John M. Botts. — This gentleman employed a portion of 
his time during the war in writing a book, which he pro- 
poses to publish, entitled: "A History of the Secession 
Movement, and its Public and Secret Advocates, North and 
South, since the Davs of Calhoun." When Mr. Botts was 


thrown into prison, Jeff Davis sought to obtain possession 
ot the manuscript, but the author refused to surrender it 
unless Davis would agree to publish it. The publication he 
desired because it would produce a revolution within a rev- 
olution, in which he could take part. Davis did not agree 
to the terms; the war being over, Botts proposes to publish 
it on his own account. 

Mr. Botts informed Lieut. Judkins, acting quartermaster 
of our regiment, that he offered to give Jeff Davis the manu- 
script in question if he would publish it word for word in 
his leading paper, and would pa}- him a large sum for so 
doing, but Jeff refused the offer. 



On the 26th of November the troops left the Brandy- 
camp to test the virtues of a winter campaign, crossing the 
Rapidan in the evening. The Sharpshooters (3d corps) 
crossed at Jacob's Mills after dark, halting near by, until' 
morning, the weather being very cold. The next morning- 
they moved on, and late in the afternoon went into action 
at the battle of 


Nov. 27, 1863. 

The fighting had already commenced before they arrived 
on the field, at a place called by the Confederates "Payne's 
Farm," several miles from Locust Grove. Advancing in line 
of battle through thickets of brush and timber, under fire,, 
they reached a position behind a rail fence on the edge of the 
timber, in connection with the 17th Maine, 68th Pennsyl- 
vania and 5th Michigan of our brigade, with the 3d Michi- 
gan and 40th New York in reserve, close behind, relieving 
Carr's division of our 3d corps. The enemy in front were 
posted on the opposite side of a small clearing, less than 200 
yards away, also behind rails. The fighting was hotly con- 


tested, the rebel bullets — direct and cross-fire— coming thick 
and fast, while occasional shell and round shot passed furi- 
ously over them. The affair lasted until after dark, when 
our regiment, with the others named, withdrew a short dis- 
tance in the wood where they rested under arms till morn- 
ing. The enemy made every effort to dislodge our line, but 
was finally driven back from his position with severe loss, 
his colors flaunting in the Sharpshooter front, having been 
repeatedly dropped by their fire, while a general scattering 
among them was observable; their apparently intended 
charge being frustrated in the outset by the double-quick 
shooting of our men. The regimental colors were waved on 
high in response, the color-sergeant, E. R. Blakeslee, of 
Michigan, being afterwards promoted for his coolness and 
bravery on this and other occasions. Finally, a portion ol 
our troops charged over the field, occupj'ing the enemy's 
position — the enemy having hurried away. The losses on 
our side were quite severe, and among the Sharpshooters 
included many prominent members, among them Lieut. 
Thomas Connington, commanding Company K, who was 
shot in the throat and instantly killed, while standing in a 
greatly exposed position which he persisted in retaining, with 
the enemy in plain view and their bullets flying at all times 
thick and close. Lieut. Thorp, second in command of that 
company, speaks very highly of the soldierly qualities of 
Lieut. Connington, and thought he had a "premonition of 
his approaching death," because "all the night before, 
instead of lying down and sleeping, as was his usual habit, 
he took a certain path and walked it all night." So close 
did our men lie at the fence, that the life's blood of their 
fallen comrades frequently spattered over them. Our bri- 
gade (3d of Birney's division) in this battle was commanded 
by Col. Egan (fhos. W.) of the 40th New York, who 
reported the brigade loss during this engagement at 174? 
killed and wounded, of which the First Sharpshooters lost 


41, and the Second Sharpshooters (in Ward's brigade) on 
our right, eight. Company H of that regiment had four 
men injured 03' a pine tree felled upon the company by a 
shell bursting in its trunk. Gen. Birney ordered Ward to 
the front to relieve Carr's right. "He did so, however, 
without pressing the enemy." Egan was a fighting com- 
mander. The boys called him "Tommy Nogan." 

"The musketry fire was incessant, and the enemy made 
constant efforts to break through my line. They - were driven 
back, and the ridse was firmly held by us. Prince's division 
not advancing equally with us " (the extreme right) "enabled 
the enemy to plant a battery on the right, that completely 
enfiladed my line. At dusk I advanced, my line of skirmish- 
ers holding the battle field. During the night the enemy 
retired, leaving their dead, wounded and hospitals." — Gen. 

The conduct of the officers and men of the Third Corps 
engaged, deserves the highest commendation. Opposed to 
the best troops of the rebel army, in superior numbers, and 
reduced by detachment, they maintained the high character 
which they have always held in the Army of the Potomac. 
The sanguinary loss of the enemy, and their repulse, leaving 
their dead and wounded in hospital upon the field, exhibit 
the prowess of the corps beyond any terms which it is in my 
power to express. — Gen. French. 

This battle was the result of a collision between our 3d 
corps (except one brigade absent), and Johnson's division of 
the enemy, while both were hurrying towards Robertson's 
Tavern by diverging roads, the one to connect with Warren, 
the other to reinforce Rodes of the Confederate army. Our 
skirmishers had run into the rebel ambulance train, sending 
them back in confusion onto their infantry, Steuart's bri- 
gade, who at once came forward and engaged our line, driv- 
ing it back a short distance, when Prince's division, deployed 
in line, opened the fight. At the first onset Steuart's men 
obtained temporary success and tried to capture one of our 


batteries, but failed. The enemy's loss at this place counted 
up nearly 600, some of their regiments suffering severely, 
including valuable officers. The Union loss was over 800. 
Warren at Robertson's Tavern encountered Rodes, but con- 
tented himself with feeling the enemy, with French not up, 
making a show of strength to prevent an assault; Rodes 
being apparently of the same mind regarding Johnson. 
Their respective losses conclusively show this, Warren claim- 
ing only 50, and the enemy admitting but 20. 

Gen. Meade had intended if possible to strike the enemy 
on the flanks of his position, as "an attack in front had 
long been impracticable." But this day's work did not 
result as he had anticipated. Delays occurred in the move- 
ments of the 3d corps: First, at Jacobs' Ford with the pon- 
toons, and the inability to cross the artillery there, owing 
to the steep bank opposite, with one pontoon short, necessi- 
tating a hastily-made trestle to reach the shore, which was 
too weak for the batteries, causing them to be sent around 
by another ford, only a portion of which came up the next 
day, "after laboring all night over almost impassable 
roads, with jaded, unfed horses." Again, on the 27th, for 
" want of a guide after crossing the ford to conduct the col- 
umn upon the route which was subsequently followed (but 
which was not designated on the map furnished for my 
guidance, the roads marked down there being entirely 
wrong and calculated to mislead), the imperfect reconnois- 
sance which caused Jacobs' Ford to be selected as a place of 
crossing, and the subsequent unavoidable contact with the 
enemy, resulting in a serious engagement, are the causes to 
which are attributable the inability of the Third Corps to 
arrive at Robertson's Tavern sooner than it did." The 
statement quoted is from Gen. French's answer to Gen. 
Meade's call for reasons why the 3d corps did not connect 
witk the 2d corps at the time expected. 


Gen. French continuing (to Meade ) : Had your commu- 
nication been simply confined to calling from me this state- 
ment, my duty would have ended, but it has been thought 
proper to state, that: "Through the delays and failures 
specified, an opportunity was lost of attacking the enemy 
before he had concentrated, and that this had a powerful 
influence upon the result of the movements of this army." 
Now I assert that without losing an unnecessary moment 
the enemy was attacked, and in very large force, before he 
had concentrated. That Gen. Warren, whom your dispatches 
to me reported as in the presence of the enemy during that 
day, had the same opportunity, while my corps was engag- 
ing them, to have done the same thing. That during the 
engagement prisoners were taken from Rodes' and Johnson's 
divisions in my front, showing that I was fighting two- 
thirds of E well's corps, and that within supporting distance 
of Gen. Warren, who was within sound of my guns. Had 
he thought proper to have made a vigorous attack upon 
those in front of him, my opinion is that the result of the 
movements of this army might have been entirely different, 
but that confining himself to one single idea, rejecting the 
vicissitudes of a march resulting irom obstacles over which 
the best generalship may sometimes have no control, his 
movements were made my objective point regardless of the 
rules and principles which all experience shows arenecessary 
to success. I claim that from the moment I met the enemy 
my order was executed; that the junction with Gen. Warren 
was then made, as intended by the general commanding the 
army; that this corps fought the enemy and defeated him, 
and had the battle been fought by the Second Corps against 
those troops in its front, and had it succeeded, as I believe 
it would have done (in conjunction with the operations of 
the Sixth Corps known to have been within supporting dis- 
tance), the occasion for this report would not have arisen. 

Gen. Warren in his report stated that he had a brisk 
little contest along his front, "in which Col. Carroll's 
brigade behaved very handsomely, driving the enemy down 
the turnpike to his main line of battle, and capturing num- 
bers of Gordon's brigade of Early's division. Though it 
was impossible to say how much force was near me, the 


prisoners from two divisions of E well's corps, and the 
report that the other was near, required caution on my 
part. Gen. Ewell was probably as ignorant of my real 
strength as I of that of his corps opposed to me, else, by 
rapid concentration, it was in his power to have over- 
whelmed me and cut our army in two. About — p. m. 
information was received that Gen. French had met and 
engaged the enemy, and that his advance was checked, his 
distance beingstill some 4 miles from me, and his exact loca- 
tion uncertain. About one hour before dark, when 1 could 
afford to venture, trusting to nightfall to cover me if I met 
superior force, I again advanced my skirmish line, strongly 
supported. The enemy resisted stubbornly and could be 
driven but a little way. The woods which he occupied 
prevented the efficient use of lines of battle, concealed his 
force so as to require caution in advancing, and furnished 
him the means of rapidly constructing breastworks, which 
he had done. The day closed without any material change 
in my position as first taken up, and without a junction of 
my force with any other. My loss was about 50 killed and 

Extracts from Gen. Rodes' report of his position in front 
of Warren : "A complete examination of the ground devel- 
oped the fact that an assault upon the enemy's position 
would be attended with heavy loss, and must be made in 
force if at all. My division remained in position the remain- 
der of the day. * * * During the day the enemy fired a 
few shells at my troops but without damage. The casual- 
ties during the day amounted to about 15 or 20 killed and 
wounded. * * ■•* Late in the afternoon, under orders, I 
sent Gen. Doles' brigade to Gen. Johnson's assistance. 

The preceding reports are given, owing to the blame 
that was attached to Gen. French by Meade, for not pro- 
ceeding faster, and failing to reach Warren's lines before the 
enemy came up. It is apparent, however, that the failure 
of the movement was in a great degree the result of a want 
of proper information regarding the strange country they 
were operating in, with its numerous cross-roads — blind 


paths — and dense thickets. But whether any general was 
to blame or not, no possible fault could be found with the 
soldiers. The fight ot the 3d corps was the only battle of 
the campaign, and they cannot be held responsible for ite 
failure. For surely, they all suffered enough before it was 
over. It is but justice, however, to mention that Gregg's 
cavalry on the same day had a spirited engagement at New 
Hope church, several miles in advance and south of Robert- 
son's Tavern, in which they drove the rebel cavalry back a 
mile, unmasking a line of infantry who were also driven off 
By our cavalrymen dismounted, to the cover of a dense 
woods, and there held until the 5th corps came up and 
relieved them. In this affair Gen. Gregg's 1st brigade, which 
did the fighting, lost: Killed, 2 officers, 17 men; wounded, 
5 officers, 59 men. 


Co. A. — 1 killed, 3 wounded. 

Co. B.-Killed: J. W. F. Chidsey. Wounded: Sergt. 
Charles E. Graves, Sergt. Philip E. Sands, Privates S. Mc- 
Neil, James Wiley. 

Co. C— Killed: Travis T. Doty. Wounded: Rascelus 
S. McClain, Abial D. Richardson, Lewis M. Beebe, Edwin J. 

Co. E. — Wounded: Corp. Clarion H. Kimball, Private 
Henry A. Sanders. 

Co. F.— Killed: E. S. Hosmer. Wounded: A. C.Cross, 
Eugene Paine, Sherod Brown, Charles M. Jordan. 

Co. G. — Killed: Corp. John W. Johnson, Private Frank 
L.Smith. Wounded: Wesley Armfield, arm, slight; Charles 
W. Baker, mouth, severe (spit the ball out); George Whit- 
son, cheek, slight. 

Co. H. — Wounded : James H. Fisk. 

Co. I. — Killed: Leander Ballard. Wounded: James 
Cramer, Henry Alchin. 


Co. K.— Killed: First Lieut. Thomas Connington, Corp. 
William E. Showers. Wounded: Corp. Edwin C. Good- 
speed, left arm; Louis C. Bitten, shoulder, slight; and two 
others unknown. 

The following morning before daybreak the 3d corps 
moved away from the vicinity of Payne's Farm, marching 
through a heavy rain to the left, and in the afternoon the 
First Sharpshooters were sent ahead as skirmishers along 
with the 68th Pennsylvania and 5th Michigan, to discover 
the enemy's position, forming a line in front of the one 
eventually taken up by the corps, east of Mine Run. 
Nothing transpired the next day, Sunday. 


Nov. 30, 1863. 

The enemy at this place were found to be well posted, 
their works presenting a most formidable appearance, with 
a large open plain in front. Gen. Meade had decided on an 
assault, front and flank, "one on the enemy's left flank with 
the 6th and 5th corps, one on the center with the 3d and 1st 
corps, and one on the enemy's right by the force under Gen. 
Warren, consisting of the 2d corps and one division of the 
6th." In front of Birney's division of the 3d corps (the 
2d and 3d divisions being detached to support Warren on 
our left), a provisional brigade was formed for this day's 
work, consisting of the First and Second Sharpshooters, 
3d Michigan and 124th New York, under command of Col. 
Pierce of the 3d Michigan. A storming party was ordered, 
Pierce's brigade to go ahead as skirmishers, forming the 
first line. Before daylight they moved down to the Run, and 
deploying out waited for the signal gi»n which was to be 


fired at eight o'clock. At this hour the artillery opened ; the 
Sharpshooters advancing with their connecting regiments, 
rushed across Mine Run and overthe large opening in front, 
the Union batteries playing over their heads in the mean- 
time. Companies B and G were on the left of the First Regi- 
ment line, having advanced a portion of the way through 
a thicket of brush and timber, in the direct course of the 
fire of our batteries. Emerging from the timber on to the 
plain, they came suddenly on to a rebel force and drove them 
back to their works, taking a few prisoners. Reaching a 
position on a slope 300 yards from the fortifications which 
were frowning with cannon, sharp firing occurred on both 
sides, the rebel artillery being ominously silent. Several of 
the Union shell fell short among our men, but did no harm. 
On leaving the little woods, B and G became separated, leav- 
ing quite an interval between them, the first named com- 
pany gaining distance to the left in their hurried advance. 
Lieut. Judkins, of Company G, going forward with the New 
Yorkers, got ahead of the line, and took a position behind 
a fence in their front. While here, he became subject to a 
fire in the rear, the balls striking the rails about him. Look- 
ing back he suddenly realized his danger and fell back to the 
line. His own company to the right had noticed his tall 
form, and taking him for a "Johnny," gave him a cross-fire 
at 400 yards, Private George A. Denniston putting in several 
close shots, until ordered to stop firing in that direction by 
Lieut. Stevens in command, who justly concluded that our 
men were mistaken as to the military status of the man, 
thus no doubt saving his life. After a sharp skirmish for an 
hour, orders were received to fall back in good order, which 
movement was well executed by the entire line, without 
hurry, the men keeping up the fire until they were out of 
range, while the enemy poured in heavily, fortunately with 
little effect. It was a bitter cold morning, the men's fingers 
were too benumbed to quickly cap their pieces, and the 


Sharpshooters resorted to the primers, which was seldom 
done excepting in cases of necessity. The enemy were 
observed striking their hands across their body after firing, 
to warm up, and taking considerable time to reload. Russell 
H. Rarrick, of Company B, was severely wounded, and 
Alexander J. Dupont, same company, on the left. On the 
right of the line which connected with the 1st corps, the 
Sharpshooters drove the enemy out of their rifle pits, doing 
considerable damage to the foe, taking some prisoners. 
While at this point the regiment suffered the loss of the 
commander, Lieut, -Col. Casper Trepp, who while taking 
observations of the situation in front, was shotthrough the 
head, the bullet entering at the red diamond on his hat. In 
his death the Sharpshooter service lost a careful and skillful 
officer, one who had become well known throughout the 
corps for his promptness and efficiency in executing move- 
ments intrusted to him. He had been very active that 
morning from long before daylight, in the disposition of his 
command, and was very particular to caution his men not 
to needlessly expose themselves, but when the order was 
given to go forward, to fail not to obey it. He appeared 
to me that morning to be unusually anxious, as if he feared 
dire results to his decimated regiment from this expected 
assault, whatever he may have thought about himself, and 
he may have had a premonition of his own fate, as he was 
at times quite restless and flervous. And yet he was the 
only one killed outright that day in his regiment, if a sure 
death wound may be called outright, although it was late 
that night -when he finally expired. He was buried three 
times — on the field, on Botts' farm at Brandy Station, and 
finally at New York city. On the fall of this gallant officer, 
the command of the regiment devolved on acting field offi- 
cer Capt. Marble. 

Among the killed was Lieutenant-Colonel Trepp, of the 
First U. S. Sharpshooters, an officer of the highest merit, 


and one whose military knowledge and achievements have 
long been the admiration of all who knew him. — Col. Egan. 

The Second Sharpshooters were in on the left of the First 
Regiment, and also met with loss, including their gallant 
chaplain, Lorenzo Barber, who was severely wounded in 
the leg while on the skirmish line using a heavy telescope 
rifle— his favorite weapon. The chaplain was known as the 
"Fighting Parson," and early earned the title in the most 
patriotic sense. He had been out with his regiment in line 
of skirmishers on many occasions, using his rifle with effect, 
as has been noticed heretofore. He had the sympathy of the 
members of both regiments in his misfortune. On the fall of 
the chaplain, Lieut. Foote, of Company B, the left company 
of the entire Sharpshooter line, could scarcely be restrained 
from rushing forward, chafing with his men at the delay of 
the expected attack. They, however, endeavored to get sat- 
isfaction by keeping up the fire on every foe presenting him- 
self for a target. 


When the regiment first got into the line, they found 
themselves confronted by a rebel battery, off to their left 
quartering, near a farm house, and the question was asked, 
"how far it was across the valley to that battery? " Chap- 
lain Barber, who had his telescope rifle sights marked for 
every 50 yards, cried out : " Hold on boys, I'll tell you how 
far it is." He saw some Virginia razor-back hogs near the 
farmhouse. Raising his sights to 650 yards he fired at a 
hog and wounded it. The men could hear it give a good 
squeal clear across the valley. Word was at once passed 
along the regimental line, "650 yards." It was but a few 
minutes before the Confederate gunners limbered up and 
got out of range. This was one of the last shots of Chap- 
lain Barber as a Sharpshooter, and one of the finest shots 
in the U. S. army. 

(The Fighting Parson.) 


The order to storm, was countermanded, and the enemy 
therefore did not have an opportunity to use their artillery 
at this favorable place to mow down advancing Union 
troops. Gen. French (3d corps) had been opposed to an 
assault from his front, and it was finally determined by Gen. 
Meade to make French's attack dependent on the success of 
the two flank assaults. French's command on this day con- 
sisted only of Birney's division of the 3d, with two divisions 
of the 1st corps, and even with the prestige of success by the 
flanking corps, much doubt was entertained of his ability 
to take the strong works before him. But it seems Warren 
failed to go on with his assault, having concluded when he 
viewed the enemy's position by daylight, that it would be 
useless. So Meade countermanded the order, eventually 
deciding to withdraw and recross the Rapidan. 

Col. Pierce reported the following losses in his "provis- 
ional brigade" at Mine Run, killed and wounded: 

*3d Michigan, total 10. 

1st U. S. Sharpshooters, total 6. 

2d U. S. Sharpshooters, total 3. 

*124th New York, total 5. 


The weather had turned very cold, especially at night, 
the troops were illy prepared to withstand the effects of the 
same, and perfectly content after their two fruitless fights to 
wind up this week's campaign in hurrying back to their 
warm log quarters at Brandy. 

Soon after dark Dec. 1st, the Sharpshooters having been 
relieved from the picket lines during the morning, retiring to 
a piece of woods close by to rest and observe the strict 
orders to remain there quietly concealed from view, the 
troops began to fall back. It was a stinging cold night, 
and before getting fairly under way the men were kept 

".aiso 12 missing in the two infantry regiments. 


standing for a full hour in the ranks awaiting orders to 
move on, with nothing to burn but patches of dried grass 
wherewith to warm their hands and feet, which was fired ot 
course by some one unknown, although orders were repeat- 
edly given to put out the same, in tones more vehement than 
pleasant. But. notwitstanding the rumored necessity of 
keeping "in the dark," an old log building suddenly got into 
a blaze, probably the work of an incendiary, and as the boys 
moved off the red flames shot high in air, presenting a 
defiant beacon to the intrenched enemy over the Run. By 
means of quick marching, however, the men soon warmed 
up, and kept moving the entire night, arriving at the Rapi- 
dan at Culpeper Mine Ford, at daybreak, crossing the same 
on pontoons. 

When this movement began, two columns of troops 
pushed on side by side at a rapid pace which soon increased 
into double quick, making the reverberating sounds from this 
heavy step roll off from the plank road through the sur- 
rounding forest, not unlike the rumblings of heaven's thun- 
der. Meanwhile, the boys kept up a continuous chatting as 
thev trotted merrily along throwing soldier's slang at each 
other— seemingly endeavoring to be the first to leave the 
broad highway on reaching the narrow wood road striking 
off to the left for the Ford. Each one seemed to understand 
that they had a hard march before them and that it was nec- 
essary to cross the river as early as possible, although 
many soon appeared to have forgotten it through their 
extreme weariness caused in a great degree by the cold 
weather, as the sequel will show. 

In fact, it proved to be a night to be long remembered, 
many sleeping as they marched, and only half awaking 
when pushed against by those behind. A large number fell 
out by the roadside, to be soon roused up and started on 
again by the provost guard who succeeded, more easily than 
might have been the case but for the aid of a powerful aux- 


iliarv, in clearing the woods of— stragglers ! must I call 
them ? those tired, worn out veterans of many campaigns, 
too many of them, ah! as successless as this one, who, 
benumbed with the extreme cold, fell asleep in the ranks, 
dropping promiscuously along the road, dragging them- 
selves from under the feet of those who still kept their place 
in the line of march, the v were fast becoming desperately 
few, gained the cover of the woods and slept, as none but 
an old soldier knows how to sleep when, to use a phrase, 
"played out," too sound, in fact, to be awakened by any- 
thing short of a drove of cattle forced among them by the 
said provost. 

The stern orders and loud demands to hurry on, the 
crash of fallen limbs and down wood, as the heavy cattle 
came roaring and bellowing on at the point of the bayonet, 
was too much for even tired if not pretty nigh demoralized 
soldiers, to withstand ; so on they came cattle and soldiers, 
in grand confusion, stumbling forward, pitching headlong 
o'er the uneven surface in the pitchy darkness, without the 
line of march. 

So it was; no regiment, no company, no squad, intact. 
The whole column was thinned out to that extent that in 
some regiments there were not guns enough on hand to 
stack arms, when they finally came to a halt over the river. 
The writer did stick it out, with the untiring Willard Isham 
by his side. They helped to awake each other from time to 
time, by sundry shakes not slightly given, but forcibly sud- 

The brave Van Buren, who had got ahead among other 
troops, completed the trio that crossed the bridge together.* 

*Note. — Of the two sergeants above named, and two better soldiers never 
wore the suit of blue, or in their case the rifle green, both survived the war, 
but Caleb M. VanBuren, after passing through 30 conflicts unscathed, lived to fall, 
with another gallant comrade George W. Griffin, who lost his foot in the last fight- 
ing before Petersburg, victims to the Indians' scalping knife on the western 


And when they came to stack arms, but two guns bayonet- 
less, "lost in action," were insufficient to obey the order, 
and the men flung themselves to the hard ground in disgust, 
to sleep. 

During the morning of the 2d the troops lay at rest near 
the Ford, those failing to keep up during the night coming 
in, in small squads. As they arrived they dropped to the 
ground and slept. The country they had but lately been 
through was known as the wilderness, therefore, when at 
noon, a band struck up the old tune, 

" Oh! aint you mighty glad to get out of the wilderness ? " 

the soldiers jumped up, and signified their approval of 
the same, considering the fatigues they had undergone " over 

Capt. Marble being now responsible for the First Regi- 
ment, made every exertion possible to keep the men moving, 
a trying situation for that officer in the dense darkness, 
who, however, proved equal to the emergency, he having 
the satisfaction of reporting his command all present and 
accounted for, on re-assembling across the Rapidan. 

But their fatigues did not end here. Another hard march 
was before them, over rough roads, which from the late 
rains had become in many places very wet and muddy, mak- 
ing the march doubly tiresome to these already tired sol- 
diers. In the afternoon they moved on, halting three hours 
at dark in a piece of woods, the troops huddled together, as 
if anticipating the approach of foes: After which, they 
pushed on during the rest of the night, splashing through 
the mud holes, weary and worn, seemingly never to get to 
their journey's end. Frequently the soldiers would ask of 
some other soldiers, how far it was to Brand}', and for a 
longtime the answer was only about "four miles," nor did 
these unsatisfactory replies change until near morning, 
when some one asserting it was "five miles," the boys kept 



still, plodding along in quiet after that — doing their own 
guessing. Finally at daybreak of the 3d they arrived at 
their camp on Botts' Farm, where they went into winter 
quarters after an extremely tough campaign of nearly eight 

Mr. Botts didn't like the idea of their cutting off his 
timber or taking his rails, but it was done nevertheless, 
stealthily or otherwise. The soldiers thought that if Botts 
was a Union man, he should be glad to contribute so much 
for the cause ; if a Confederate, the timber was by all the 
rights of war their property. But in after years, Gilman K. 
Crowell, of Company E, takes this considerate view of it: 
"John M. Botts had one of the finest places I saw while in 
Virginia. He would not give us any straw to make our 
beds; and looking at it from my present stand-point, I do n't 
think we ought to blame him much, for the enemy had just 
stole all his grain and part of his stock, and if we had taken 
his straw he would have nothing for what little stock he 
had left. They had burned most all his fences, and I remem- 
ber that we rebuilt some of them for him." 

On the 11th of January, however, they broke camp and 
moving two miles, near Culpeper, encamped in a fine piece 
of hard timber where comfortable quarters were soon built, 
called "Camp Bullock," after a well known Philadelphian 
who had presented every soldier in Birney's division with a 
pair of woolen mittens. Log cabins and board shanties 
with shelter-tent roof, good fire-places with brick and stone 
chimneys, were erected ; the soldiers adapting themselves to 
every necessity, soon learning to do such work, to become 
carpenters and masons. It was not necessary to make 
details to cut down trees here. Volunteers were plenty, and 
knowing they had permission to chop for their needs, went 
at it like so many pioneers, with a will. 

At this encampment some of the Wisconsin men traced a 
flight of bees to a big tree at the head of their street, close 


behind the officer's tent, which they kept secret, patiently 
waiting until he became "officer of the day," when after 
making his rounds at night, being particular not to come 
that way again, the tree came down, and when the officer 
returned to his quarters next morning, on being relieved 
from duty, he found there, his share of the spoils in the 
shape of a large pan of honey. It proved to be a great bee 
tree, and several camp kettles full were obtained from it. 
As for the tree, not a vestige remained at daylight on the 
spot where it had so long stood, being removed a sufficient 
distance to escape notice, strict orders then being in force 
against cutting off any of the camp trees. But with honey 
in sight, the average old vet would take all the chances of 
being discovered. When the regimental commander, Capt. 
Marble, called during the day, on being presented with a 
portion of this honey, he said: "Stevens, I don't suppose 
this honey came exactly from Wisconsin, but it is to my 
notion, just as sweet." 

A new year proposition was made by the government 
to make veterans of all soldiers who had served two years 
or more, who would re-enlist, presenting them with $400 
bounty and a 30-day furlough, the remainder of their 
original term being cancelled; also allowing regiments 
having a given proportion of re-enlistments, to go to their 
respective states and recruit up. But few of the First 
Sharpshooters accepted this offer, the number of original 
members being greatly reduced, and many of the recruits 
not having served two years. The Second Regiment, how- 
ever, re-enlisted almost to a man and went home, where 
they recruited up in their respective states before they returned 
to the front. They had suffered severely in many hard 
fought engagements, and deserved a respite, with a chance 
to breath the free clear air of their northern homes. 

About this time Col. Berdan resigned, the only field 
officer left in the First Regiment being Major Hastings, who 


was absent on detached service in Washington, and did 
not forever after return to the regiment. 

On the 6th of February at four in the morning, a por- 
tion of the Sharpshooters moved off with troops to the 
left towards the Rapid an, but took no part in the fight 
that occurred at Morton's Ford, they returning the night of 
the 7th, after another fatiguing march through rain and 
mud. The enemy had crossed several brigades at the Ford, 
where our 2d corps after a short engagement repulsed them 
capturing some of their number and causing their entire 
force to retreat back to the south side of the river. During 
this movement those of the Sharpshooters not participat- 
ing, were out on picket where they were threatened by what 
were called Scott's Little Fork Rangers, one of whom had 
sneaked up to one of our cavalrymen, in advance, and shot 
him through the body. The "murderer" probably wanted 
his horse but didn't get it. A skirmish followed between 
our cavalry squad and the above styled band. The 
Sharpshooter line under Lieutenant Stevens remained 
firm, having received special instructions to hold the 
position at all hazards, but were not attacked. It was an 
exciting time as the enemy were known to be hovering 
about, so that our men were kept constantly on the alert. 
Harrison De Long, of Company B, a well known staunch 
comrade writes me: "That was the place where you gave 
me 'fits' for going to camp after the mail. I took my scold- 
ing good-naturedly, and the matter was soon ended." The 
boys used to take chances sometimes, notwithstanding 
orders were against them. But when a Sharpshooter 
wouldn't go for his mail when he heard there was a letter 
"from home," it was because there was no possible chance 
to do so. 

Again at daybreak of the 28th we moved away with 
our division (having been preceded the day previous by the 
troops of the 6th corps, who passed through camp with 


bands playing, moving at a rapid pace), and marching 
through the town of Culpeper, company front, band play- 
ing, the weather being fine and roads good, we finally came 
to a halt at a small place called James City about two p. M., 
a distance of 14 miles south. Here we remained until the 
morning of March 2d, having been exposed in the meantime 
to an unexpected snowstorm, — a big one, — from which we 
were totally unprotected in the open field, as we were. The 
6th corps was several miles in our front. Gen. Custer had 
passed by with a good raiding force of cavalry, and, pen- 
etrating within the enemy's lines, destroyed a rebel camp 
engaging them at different points; Kilpatrick pushing on 
towards Richmond, on the extreme left, where in that 
vicinity he soon arrived, on the outskirts of the city, — 
"hung his banners on the outer walls," — but as Butler's 
troops from Yorktown had failed to connect, the cavalry 
was obliged to return without accomplishing the purpose 
of the expedition — to capture Richmond. Engaged in this 
daring raid some distance to the right of Gen. Kilpatrick, 
was a special cavalry force of 400, under Col. Ulri'c Dahlgren, 
who, getting into an ambuscade near Richmond, Dahlgren 
was slain and his small force demoralized and scattered, 
many being captured by the enemy. The Sharpshooters 
returned to their camp the afternoon of the 2d, after an 
unusually tiresome tramp through slush and mud, enough so 
indeed to materially dampen their ardor. But they soon got 
over it and were themselves again. It was such exposures 
that laid the seed to future and often incurable ailments, 
which in after years helped to swell the government pension 


During the dull days of the encampment some of the 
officers took a fancy to horse racing — short dashes. Among 
them was Capt. "Hank" Garrison, who had come into 


possession of a pretty fair saddle horse and a good runner 
known as the "yellow horse" on account of his light buck- 
skin color, and which had won for the sportive captain a 
number of five dollar greenbacks. This set him to talking 
pretty loud about being able to beat any other horse in the 
brigade, and set some of the other officers to enter into a 
combination to take him down; so it was really Garrison 
versus the field. Finally one of the combine took up the 
captain's $25 challenge, and began to look about for "any 
good horse" that could be obtained in the brigade. At this 
juncture Col. Biles of the 99th Pennsylvania, came to his 
relief by sending over to camp a fine browny. The race 
occurred at the appointed time, but owing to the rain it was 
run in the mud. Just before it came off, Capt. Marble came 
to me laughing and said: "Hank paid the browny nigger 
25 cents to hold the horse back, but Steve has fixed him ; 
he gave Hank's darky 50 cents to pull in the yellow 

"Then it's a mule race," I said. 

"Just about! " and so it proved, for Hank's darky being 
the strongest puller, lost the race by a nose, as was finally 
determined at the finish, for they could scarcely be distin- 
guished on the go, owing to the mud that completely 
enveloped them. So Steve won his $25, and Hank stopped 
his horse talk. 

As spring rolled around, target shooting was again in 
order, and another match was in contemplation between 
the First and Second Regiments which, however, did not 
take place. Their skill was soon to be tried in a more need- 
ful direction where "gray" or "butternut" covered the 
human target. On March 27th 1st Sergt. Caleb N. Jacobs, 
of Company G, was transferred to the non-commissioned 
staff as sergeant-major of the First Regiment, vice Atwell, 
commissioned adjutant of the 36th Wisconsin. Sergt. James 


S. Webster was then promoted to first sergeant, and other 
changes made in the Wisconsin company. 

Gen. U. S. Grant having been placed in command of all 
the armies of the United States with the rank of lieutenant- 
general, made his headquarters with the Army of the Poto- 
mac, a part of which had been transferred to the West, with 
the five corps reduced in strength remaining, consolidated 
into three — 2d, 5th and 6th, besides the cavalry. Of the 
infantry, the old 3d corps (1st and 2d divisions) became the 
1st and 2d brigades of the 3d division under Birney, and 
two brigades of a 4th division under Mott, of the 2d corps 
commanded by Gen. Hancock; the Sharpshooters being in 
Birney's division, the First Regiment in the 2d brigade 
(Gen. Hays), the Second Regiment under Lt.-Col. Stoughton in 
the 1st brigade (Gen. Ward). They were, however, allowed 
to retain their respective "diamond" badges— 1st division 
red, 2d division white ; the badge of a 3d division being 
blue. The First Regiment was now commanded by Major 
Mattocks, of the 17th Maine, with Capt. Marble again act- 
ing as field officer. 

On March 31st they left Camp Bullock, moving across 
the railroad into an old rebel camp near Brandy Station. 
Nothing particular transpired while here other than regular 
routine of duties, until April 2d, when they took part in the 
grand review by the newly appointed commander-in-chief, 
Gen. Grant, Gen. Meade commanding Army of the Potomac, 
and Hancock the 2d corps. On the 27th camp was broken 
up, the troops removed to fields where they pitched their 
shelters, under marching orders ; all surplus camp and gar- 
rison equipage being turned over to the quartermaster. For 
some time previous heavy drills took place, six hours a day, 
while inspections and reviews were frequent. The old sol- 
diers didn't like it ever so much — thought they didn't 
require it — but they had to stand it, and soon became in 
good condition for more rough marches and hard fighting. 


When Gen. Hays took command of the brigade, he came 
to us prejudiced against the Sharpshooters, whose fame had 
reached him, doubting their ability to meet therequirements 
of leading and successful marksmen, to entitle them to the 
name and fame acquired throughout the Army of the Poto- 
mac; and he bluntly told Gen. Birney, who was one of our 
backers, that "the Sharpshooters were no better shots than 
ordinary infantry," and he "should therefore employ them 
in ordinary line of battle." In other words he was one of 
those old officers who evidently didn't believe in the Sharp- 
shooter service; and would soon prove to Birney and staF, 
and other invited guests, that "theSharpshooters were pets, 
and not particularly expert with the rifle." Of course our reg- 
iments heard of this, and didn't fancy Hays very much just 
then, while Capt. Marble in command of the First Regiment 
at once selected a detail "for a particular purpose," of "ten 
men in light marching order," who were ordered to report 
to brigade headquarters, with an invitation extended to our 
officers to "come and witness the test shooting determined 

Marble of course was careful to select reliable men, tl e 
least liable to become disconcerted no matter how difficult 
the test, as he was determined to guard against the possi- 
bility of a similar detail from some of Hays' "pets" — in 
other words he didn't propose to be taken at a disadvan- 
tage, but was ready to meet all comers on equal terms, in 
all manner of shooting and at all distances. 

The result was, that Gen. Hays was completely sur- 
prised, his sour looks at us changed to "sweet smiles," in a 
speech acknowledging that he was "very much mistaken, 
and that henceforth he would be a Sharpshooter," at the 
same time ordering from Quartermaster Marden, a pair of 
green pants in token of his appreciation of our men's pro- 
ficiency in the use of the rifle; eventually, too soon after for 
the good of the cause, beingkilled with the same green pants 
on, dying a Sharpshooter at heart and in sentiment. 



Major-General Meade was instructed that Lee's army 
-would be his objective point; that wherever Lee went he 
would go also. — U. S. Grant. 

On the 3d of May the Sharpshooters packed up in the 
morning, and participating in the general movement of the 
army broke camp, the First Regiment with Hays' brigade, 
the Second with Ward's, and moving off at midnight, march- 
ing 20 miles, crossed the Rapidan at Ely's Ford at ten a. m. the 
following day. Having rested a sufficient time to allow the 
rest of the division to come up, they moved on, and after a 
steady march until towards the close of the afternoon, 
reached the old battlefield of Chancellorsville of the year 
previous, where they bivouacked for the night. While here, 
a number of articles were found formerly belonging to the 
regiment, among them their lost knapsacks which were 
mostly burned, strips only of them being left, and pieces of 
green clothing; also the graves of several of their former 
comrades. Human skulls and bones were scattered over 
the ground — grave reminders of the grim past. It was near 
the ground where the determined "80" drove back the 
"Stonewall men," where the Sharpshooters rested for the 


The march was resumed on the morning of the 5th, our 
regiment being thrown out as flankers, passing through the 
Cedars, on towards Todd's Tavern, where they came to a 
halt. Firing being heard on the right, the troops moved 
back a short distance to the Brock road, when they were 
rushed rapidly forward, heavy fighting going on ahead; the 
din and clamor of which was plainly heard, in such tones of 
thunder as not to be misunderstood by the approaching 


May 5-6, 1864. 

Arriving at the scene of action in the afternoon where the 
contending armies were hard at it, the First Sharpshoot- 
ers deployed in skirmish line on the left of the Brock and 
Orange roads, and moving forward to ascertain the position 
of the enemy, soon found them in force mid terrific fire, 
whereby the right of the line composed of the Swiss and 
Vermonters suffered considerable loss in a few moments, 
while the major commanding— C. P. Mattocks, of 17th 
Maine, — was taken prisoner. It was a hot reception for the 
boys, but they endeavored to pay it back as earnestly. 
Finally, having accomplished the purpose for which they 
were sent forward, they were ordered back after a sharp 
skirmish, and relieved by other troops withdrew to the 
Brock road, where they remained until night behind rudely 
constructed breastworks. After dark they crossed the 
Orange road to the right, the battle for the day being over, 
and marching considerably about through the dark wood 
and swamp among the dead and wounded, at a late hour 
succeeded in rejoining their brigade which had been hotly 
engaged elsewhere, with the loss among many others, of 



their brave commander, Gen. Alex. Hays, who was instantly 
killed. We now rested, and poorly, the balance of the night, 
amid moans and groans in front and around us. Capt. John 
Wilson senior officer, commanded the regiment, on the cap- 
ture of Major Mattocks who had been detailed to command 
us when the campaign opened. Capt. Marble was detailed 
for staff duty, — acting assistant adjutant general of the bri- 
gade, — which important position he retained during the 
balance of his term of service. The contest thus far had 
been a fierce one ; the small trees and bushes were cut close 
to the ground b\ r the bullets — mowed right down — but little 
if any artillery being used. The lines being close together in 
the thick woods enveloped by the dense smoke, the artillery 
couldn't be brought into play. Strictly defined, it was an 
infantry fight ; where both sides struggled as stubbornly for 
the failing victory. 

It is true, the batteries of the 2d corps, with one or two 
exceptions, were run up on some high ground on the extreme 
left of the corps and the Union line of battle, near the cross- 
ing of the Brock and Catharpin roads, and a portion of 
another battery (Ricketts') was placed at the Brock road 
junction with the Orange plank, but generally the artillery 
on both sides cut little figure in the contest. Ricketts' bat- 
tery, however, did good service and suffered much, having 
moved forward with the line of battle behind Getty's divis- 
ion of the 6th corps, now under Hancock's command, con- 
necting on the right with Birney. Of this battery Gen. Han- 
cock said : 

"The section of Ricketts' battery which moved down 
the plank road when Birney and Getty attacked, suffered 
severely in men and horses. It w r as captured at one time 
during the fight, but was retaken under the direction of 
Capt. Butterfield, of Col. Carroll's staff, by detachments 
from the 14th Indiana and 8th Ohio volunteers of Carroll's 
brigade. It was then withdrawn and replaced by a section 


of Dow's (6th Maine) battery." He also speaks of this last 
battery, on the following clay: "rendering valuable and 
effective service." 

Gen. Birney called on the Second Sharpshooters late in 
the evening for volunteers to retake one of these guns that 
had been abandoned between the lines down the Orange 
road, whereupon Capt. Norton, of Company E, and plenty 
of men, rushed down fighting their way, and not only 
brought off the gun but took as well the harness off the dead 
horses, bringing it along. 

At an early hour on the following morning (May 6), 
the First Sharpshooters deployed as skirmishers ahead, 
advancing westerly to the extreme front where they occupied 
and held an exposed position. The ground passed over con- 
tained many dead of the day previous; the wounded having 
been mostly carried off by the stretcher-bearers at work the 
entire night, using lighted candles to find the sufferers in 
that black, grim, dismal wood. 

Our regiment finally recrossed the Orange road to the 
left, taking up a position in advance of the division, in a 
small opening, obtaining temporary cover behind rude 
breastworks constructed of half-rotten logs and brush. As 
the battle progressed, the fiery sun pouring down its hottest 
rays, the men with great drops of perspiration rolling from 
their faces, moved hurriedly forward to an advanced posi- 
tion, firing as rapidly as sight could be obtained through 
the thick smoke which soon covered the field. We had 
enough to do in hurried shooting — quick work — it being at 
the time Hill re-formed and came charging back, with Long- 
street's corps swinging around on our left, sending in a ter- 
rific fire on our flank and across our rear. It was terribly 
hot, the scorching sun, while the air was perfectly blue with 
bullets. On they came with their rebel yell — the most 
hideous music imaginable, when you know they 've got you 


if you don't get up and "get." In such places it is enough 
to strike terror to the stoutest hearts. Shrieking shell and 
hissing bullets will develop a soldier's fullest senses — his 
eyes magnify, his ears expand — but unless he is flanked, or 
caught in the rear, he will hold on. But when they 

Howled in our ears 
Their hideous cries, 

it required the greatest determination to withstand the 
effect and meet the onslaught. The Johnnies felt the same 
way, when we had them on the run. In this respect the 
Blue and the Gray were very alike. A very natural feeling, 
which proves that the human voice can on critical occasions, 

Strike more terror to the soul. 
Than more clamorous sounds of war. 

The cry is, "here they come," and in unknown strength to 
charge our own weak lines, far to the front— as the Sharp- 
shooters often were. But the trained soldier rarely gives 
way without orders, until the last possible moment. In this 
case we couldn't stand the pressure, and were forced hur- 
riedly back along with the other troops behind us. 

It was during this critical period that the brave and 
lamented Gen. Wadsworth was killed. His division (5th 
corps) was on the right of the road, connected with ours of 
the 2d corps on the left. But he had crossed over, and rid- 
ing ahead to the Sharpshooter line urged us farther for- 
ward, although then away ahead of anything on that par- 
ticular field. In answer to his loud demands, his per- 
emptory orders, for he was excited as he rode the line with 
waving sword — a noble-looking white haired veteran— we 
still surged farther ahead, but not to exceed a hundred 
yards, when we met them, coming with a rush — the balls 
hissing hot and low. The general then rode into the road, 


where he was shot and captured, mortally wounded. Thus 
was lost one of the noblest spirits of the army. 

The rebel General Longstreet was also wounded, in the 
throat, and carried back to die, but recovered to come at 
us again in future hot places — one of the Confederates' best 
officers. Gen. Jenkins of the enemy, was at the same time 
killed in this vicinity. 

The Second Sharpshooters went into this morning's 
fight on the right of the Vermont brigade which overlapped 
their line resting on the plank road, and fired into them. 
Capt. Albert Buxton, the tried and faithful commander of 
Company H, received his death wound while gallantly lead- 
ing his men in. 

Our regiments eventually took up a position behind the 
works along the Brock road. Hancock's corps went into 
action at five in the morning, driving Hill's troops a 
mile and a half before they rallied to return reinforced, 
assisted by Longstreet's flanking columns. It was the 
opinion of Gen. Hancock that the Confederates would have 
met with overwhelming defeat this day had his orders to 
his left wing been fully carried out. From information 
received he had apprehended an attack on his exposed extreme 
left, by way of the Catharpin road, from Longstreet, and it 
became necessary to keep the flank well guarded to meet 
any such movement. He says: 

"Barlow's division was placed in position for that 
purpose, and my artillery was formed to cover the road 
leading irom the Catharpin to the Brock road, along which 
it was supposed the enemy would advance. * * * At 
seven a. m. (6th) I sent a staff officer to Gen. Gibbon, com- 
manding the left of my line, informing him of our success on 
my right, and directing him to attack the enemy 'sright with 
Barlow's division, and to press to the right towards the 
Orange plank road. This order was only partially carried out. 
Frank's brigade of Barlow's division, was sent to feel the 
enemy's right, and after an obstinate contest succeeded in 


forming a connection with the left of Mott's division. I do 
not know why my order to attack with Barlow's division 
was not more fully carried out, but it was probably owing 
to the apprehended approach of Longstreet's corps on my 
left about that time; but had my left advanced as directed 
by me in several orders, I believe the overthrow of the enemy 
would have been assured. At all events, an attack on the 
enemy's right by the troops of Barlow's division would 
have prevented the turning of the left of Mott's division, 
which occurred later in the day." 

Relative to this desperate flank attack at midday, which 
eventually forced our corps back to the Brock road, Han- 
cock said : 

"The enemy now advanced upon Frank's brigade of 
Barlow's division, which joined the left of Mott's division. 
That brigade, having been heavily engaged in the earlier 
part of the day, had nearly exhausted its ammunition, and 
was compelled to retire before the enemy, whose attack was 
made with great vehemence. This was Longstreet's attack. 
Passing over Frank's brigade they struck the left of Mott's 
division, which in turn was forced back. Some confusion 
ensuing among the troops o.f that division, I endeavored 
to restore order and to re-form my line of battle along the 
Orange plank road, from its extreme advance to itsjnnction 
wHith the Brock road, by throwing back my left, in order to 
hold my advanced position along that road and on its right, 
but was unable to effect this, owing to the partial disorgan- 
ization of the troops, which was to be attributed to their 
having been engaged for many hours in a dense forest, under 
a heavy and murderous musketry fire, when their formation 
was partly lost. Gen. Birney, who was in command ofthat 
portion of the line, thought it advisable to withdraw the 
troops from the wood, where it was almost impossible to 
adjust our lines, and to re-form them in the breastworks 
along the Brock road on our original line of battle." 

Late in the day, a desperate and almost successful charge 
was made bv the enemv on to the Brock road works, the 


first line of which they entered, aided by the fire and smoke of 
the burning woods sweeping down our lines, thus covering 
their sudden approach ; but the troops rallying, rushed for- 
ward and drove them back through the brush, the flag of the 
First Sharpshooters being conspicuously waved outside the 
works on the heels of the retreating rebs, by the brave 
color-bearer Sergeant Blakeslee, of Company C; while Color 
Sergeant J. Madison Tarbell, of Company E, Second Regi- 
ment, stood with his colors planted on the breastworks until 
the rebels stood theirs alongside, and until he received a 
shot through the arm and had to give up, though he hung 
to the flag. 

The excitement was intense, and affairs looked desperate 
for a while; but when our soldiers found they had to do it 
— recover the lost ground — they did it nobly. It was now 
the Yanks' turn to shout, and it rose from regiments and 
brigades, high towards the heavens, a frightful piercing 
sound of determined valor. 

Carroll's brigade of Gibbon's division, led the counter- 
charge, by order of Gen. Birne\ r , recapturing the breastworks, 
the First Sharpshooters being in line to the right, with them. 
The advance of the enemy checked, the tired troops rested 
for the night. Thus ended the battle of the Wilderness 
proper, an engagement that cost hundreds of lives on both 
sides; and while the Union troops gained no point in their 
forward movement, yet as the enemy in this last grand 
charge had approached stealthily through the brush and 
smoke almost to our lines, before they made their sudden 
dash, they failed to follow up their advantage by forcing 
the fighting after our men had fallen back over the open 
plain, and in some places in confusion, but remained at the 
works (in our immediate front) until our men rallied and 
easily drove them out and away— out of sight— with little 
loss, so that what there was of victors-, was ours. They 
lacked the push at the critical moment, and lost the battle. 


It always seemed surprising, coming out of a hot battle, 
how many were unharmed. With thousands of bullets 
continually passing through the ranks, the chances were 
slim enough to come out untouched, yet but comparatively 
asmall proportion, as a general thing, of those engaged, get 
hit. It would be impossible to tell how many narrow 
escapes, or "close calls " — as the boys term it — occur. In 
such a fight, a soldier seldom knows how near he is to death 
until he is struck. There are times, however, when they 
had sufficient evidence that but a hair's breadth separated 
life and death, and some remarkable instances have been 
noted. One of this kind occurred in the forenoon before the 
hot work had fairly commenced. Three line officers stood 
talking by a sapling, on opposite sides, the other with his 
back squarely behind the tree looking to the rear. They 
were looking to see if our troops were coming forward. 
The writer was on the south side, Capt. Nash on the north, 
and while engaged talking in low tones, watching front and 
rear, a single bullet spanged into the center of the tree, right 
through it. It was supposed that Lieut. J. L. Rilliet who 
covered the tree behind, was surely struck; but he very 
coolly replied, "if so, I don't feel it." Where the ball went, 
or how it could pass him, was a mystery; nor did we have 
a moment's time to solve it, as this apparent signal shot 
was instantly followed by a rattling volley, then the uproar, 
and the hissing of myriad balls showed the fight had 

Gen. Burnside, commanding the 9th corps, was guard- 
ing the approaches to Washington from the Rappahannock 
north, at the time the Army of the Potomac crossed the 
Rapidan, when he was ordered to move up his troops 
without delay, which was done. Grant referring to Burn- 
side's promptness in this important reinforcement says: 

"By six o'clock of the morning of the 6th he (Burnside) 
was leading his corps into action near the Wilderness 


Tavern, some of his troops having marched a distance of 
over 30 miles, crossing both the Rappahannock and Rapidan 
rivers. Considering that a large proportion (probably 
two-thirds) of his command was composed of new troops, 
unaccustomed to marches and carrying the accouterments 
of a soldier, this was a remarkable march." 

These accouterments consisted of the usual regulation 
supply. The Sharpshooters, as noticed at the time, had to 
undergo the same trials on leaving Camp of Instruction and 
entering on to the Peninsula. Stuffed knapsacks, extra 
blankets, tentcovers, rubbers and overcoats, all new troops 
had to endure. 


May 7, 1864. 

On the morning of the 7th we were suddenly ordered 
forward to capture a battery. We were rushed down the 
Orange road far to the front, under shot and shell as we 
deployed out, and crossed to the left into a deep wood 
close up to the rebel works situated on a hill. Here we 
were subjected to a severe fire of cannon and musketry, doing 
great damage, with little chance to retaliate, shooting 
upwards through the trees. The enemy had us in a bad 
spot — a complete corner where death awaited all. It was 
only a question of time, and short time at that. An 
infantry detachment coming up to our support on our left, 
drew away some of the fire from us into this rash, rushing 
squad, and down they tumbled. But we had to get out of 
there. It was a useless attempt. When we went in, they 
told us we were going to capture a "jackass battery," but 
the jackass came near capturing us, or rather killing us all 
off. Men fell to the right and left on all sides, from the louc- 


mouthed cannon and well aimed muskets at short range. 
It seemed a useless slaughter, that might have been avoided 
by stealthy skirmishing without attracting attention, and 
with little or no loss been successful in ascertaining the move- 
ment afoot by the Confederates at this point, instead of the 
rush forward — all to capture a jackass battery well posted 
on a bluff; which with our slim force we couldn't do by so 
open an attack. It really required some strategy. Ifitwas 
the intention to find out what was in front, we accomplished 
the purpose, paying dearly for the information. 

The enemy had closed up behind his intrenchments, and 
Gen. Grant reported: "From this it was evident to my mind 
that the two days' fighting had satisfied him of his inability 
to further maintain the contest in the open field, notwith- 
standing his advantage of position, and that he would 
await an attack behind his works." 

We were finally ordered back out of range, forming a 
line of pickets across the wood, where we remained on the 
constant and sharp lookout until night; our attempts to 
reach the fatal spot to recover the wounded or recognize 
the dead being prevented by the as alert enemy. 

After the fight we were informed that the force coming 
down the road to our left, thus drawing the fire, was one 
of the "forlorn-hopes," or "straggler brigades," as the 
boys called them. As the campaigns and big battles 
increased, the provost guard were generally brought closer 
to the fighting lines, where stragglers and all soldiers falling 
hack to the rear who couldn't "show blood " for a wound, 
were at once arrested and, formed into battalions, sent for- 
ward to the farthest front as a sort of forlorn hope, — 
but without the honors,— where the}- had to face the balls 
in the thickest of the fight; so that many no doubt fell 
unknown by name or regiment, which will account for the 
want of certainty in some cases, by company comrades, as 
such instances have occurred, in which missing men were lost 


in the described provost battalions. Daring the Wilderness- 
Petersburg campaign in all the numerous conflicts, the 
provost guard were right behind us, ready to do their duty 
in the manner stated, as the "sick and sorry" soldiers — and 
we had them in every brigade— found out often to their 

In this action the Sharpshooters lost a number of as 
good men in a fight as stood in the Army of the Potomac. 
All told not less than a score went down on that reckless 
advance. Here again were close calls in order. Kirkham 
had his ear completely packed with the bark of a tree, 
causing considerable blood to flow, the bullet having just 
missed him, and it was some time before he could get it 
sufficiently cleared out to hear again. While guarding this 
point during the day, with the battle-lines far behind us, 
we were occasionally reminded of the enemy in front, by 
certain whizzing music through the air — of the infernal 
order — as with a yell they fired ramrods at us. But we 
kept quiet, and watched. 

After dark we were ordered to the Orange road on the 
verge of the fatal field of the previous morning, and stood 
guard all night, with vedettes in front. It was an ominous 
looking scene, the enemy known to be near, down the road, 
the Union arm3 r withdrawing and marching off to the left. 
A dreadful quiet prevailed during that black night — not a 
sound to be heard beyond our own wmispers. We sat 
around on dead men for logs in the utter darkness, while 
the stench was suffocating. We were in the midst of the 
dead of the fight of the day before, where Longstreet made 
his flank charge. At daybreak we were ordered to fall back, 
being relieved by cavalry, and afterwards protected them 
as they came away— for the army had gone. Berdan's Sharp- 
shooters were of the last to leave the Wilderness. 

As we retired from the road, and crossed that fatal field, 
the ground was discovered completely covered with dead 


by the hundreds; and one remarkable thing about the 
appearance of the silent sleepers, was that the Northern 
men had pale faces, while the Southerners were of a choc- 
olate color. They lay in all manner of positions, inter- 
mingled, Blue and Gray. 

The question has been frequently asked : "How do men 
fall in battle ?" It has even gone into the courts on the wit- 
ness stand, in important criminal cases. My answer to that 
is, to compare the soldiers on the battle field falling under 
fire, like the pins of a bowling alley when the ball strikes 
among them. They fall every way — forward, backward, 
sideways, gently sinking down, hurriedly pitching ahead, 
and all regardless of the way they are going, quick or slow, 
forward or backward. That is my answer as to how sol- 
diers fall in battle. You can't tell anything about it. It 
often depends on the manner or the place where they are hit. 
Sometimes they don't fall at all, until pushed over by their 
still living comrades. Stark in death they stand, as they 
were struck. It is natural to suppose, however, that when 
a soldier is running or charging lorward and is struck dead, 
that he would pitch forward, but it does not always hap- 
pen so. 

The Sharpshooters suffered considerable loss on this bat- 
tle field. The First Regiment loss is as follows: 

May 5-6. 

Co. A.— 1 killed, 2 wounded. 

Co. B. — Wounded : Joseph Marr, mortal. 

Co. C— Killed: Lewis M. Beebe. Wounded: Cyrus W. 
Wilcox. Captured: Jacob A. Ege. 

Co. E.— Killed : Burnice Scales. Captured : G. W. Straw. 

Co. F.— Killed: Corp. David M. French, W. J. Domag, 
E. E. Trask, Jacob Lacoy, and mortally wounded, A. C. 
Cross, William Wilson. Wounded ; M. Cunningham, Spaf- 
ford A. Wright, John C. Page, S. M. Butler, William Mc- 


Keever. Captured: Sergt. Paul M. Thompson, J. H. 

Co. G.— Wounded : First Sergt. James S. Webster, head, 
slight ; Privates Michael Costelo, leg amputated, mortal ; 
James Ragin, arm, slight. Captured : Sergt. James Durkee. 

Co. H— Captured: Corp. Martin V. Nichols, Private 
Orrin E. Doty. 

Co. I— Killed : Albert N. Finch. Wounded: Samuel 

Co. K.— Killed : Sergt. Jasper McBain, shot in six places, 
died a prisoner two days later; Orville Parker. 

May 7. 

Co. A. — Killed: Corp. Ulrect. Wounded : five. 

Co. C— Wounded : Sergt. Frank H. Cobb, and a prisoner 
four months. 

Co. D. — Wounded: John H. Phtnney, mortal. 

Co. P.— Killed: Edward Giddings, Joseph Hagan. 
Wounded: Lieut. H. E. Kinsman, Dustin R. Bareau, Henry 
Mattocks, Edward Lyman. 

Co. G. — Killed: Corp. John A. Denniston. Wounded: 
Sergt. William W. Sweet, arm, severe; Private Israel Ingols- 
be, leg, mortal. 

Co. H. — Mortally wounded: Lieut. Michael McGeough. 

Co. I.— Killed : George R. Merrill. 

As a somewhat remarkable instance of lasting friendship 
springing up between mortal enemies, and continuing for 
years after the war, the following case is given : Sergt. 
Cobb, after he was wounded and left on the field, was picked 
up by some Alabamians, who recognized him as the Sharp- 
shooter whom they had met in friendly conversation on 
picket in front of Fredericksburg in the spring of '63. They 
belonged to the 11th Alabama, and having crossed the Rap- 
pahannock several times exchanging papers and visiting 
Cobb and other of our boys (although strictly against 


orders either side), became warm friends, at the same time 
entering into an agreement, that should either of them, 
through the fortunes of war, fall into the other's hands, 
they should help them all they could. Sergt. Cobb said: 
"This meeting of these new-made friends again, on the Wil- 
derness battle field a year after their first acquaintance, was 
an affecting scene." They carried him tenderly from the 
field, and did everything possible to make it easy for him, 
particularly when the surgeon told them ominously that "it 
was a question of but a short time with this Yankee at the 
longest," as his right side was badly shattered (a generally 
fatal wound), so that whatever was to be done must be 
then. The Alabama friends left Cobb with the surgeon, bid- 
ding him a sorrowful good-bye, with hopes for his recovery 
added, as their army moved off. For one month in the 
Wilderness hospital, and three months in a Lynchburg 
tobacco warehouse, did the gallant sergeant suffer with this 
terrible wound and the deadly gangrene. Then, on to Libby, 
where he was finally paroled, reaching home the winter fol- 
lowing. Years after, through the earnest suggestion of his 
son, the veteran wrote an inquiring letter to a local Ala- 
bama paper published at the home of those Confederates, 
whose address he had never forgotten, and hearing from 
three of the four who had carried him from the battle field, 
a correspondence commenced which they have been keeping 
up as late as 1892, with the intention of arranging for one 
more meeting, or reunion, after nearly 30 years have passed. 
Retiring silently through the brush to the Brock road, 
the Sharpshooters acted as rear guard, and protected the 
cavalry while falling back. The main body of the division 
having preceded them, they followed on as fast as circum- 
stances would permit, halting and facing to the front from 
time to time, until the cavalry came up again, when the lat- 
ter would halt and watch, while our men were pushing on. 
An important service which the Sharpshooters were fre- 


quently called on to perform. Skirmishing in advance, and 
protecting the retreat, often long distances from the main 
body, was their principal and hazardous duty- During this 
time William Wells, of Company F, was wounded and cap- 
tured, subsequently dying in prison at Florence, S. C. 

As our hard-fought troops marched back, down the 
Brock road, it was again in order to "swap guesses" as to 
whether we were to execute another retrograde movement 
— turn to the left at the Chancellorsville road, and recross 
the Rapidan; or if by keeping straight away to the south 
and along the enemy's lines — always found ready to oppose 
our advance — Grant was going to try the effect of farther 
attacks. They soon found out — in fact, before the first 
month expired they had many opportunities to find it out 
— that he was going to ''fight it out on that line, if it took 
all summer." * 

But though knowing full well that a forward movement 
meant more hard fighting, more killed and wounded, they 
hurried on with light hearts ready for the worst, rather 
than go the old way. They had crossed the Rapidan for the 
last time. 

Official return of Union loss at the Wilderness May 5-7, 
1864: Killed: 2,246; wounded, 12,037; missing, 3,383; 
total, 17,666. 


May 8-9, 1064. 

Having rejoined the division at this place about noon, 
the First Sharpshooters were soon after placed in position 
on a timbered hill, where log breastworks were being 
erected. A sharp fight soon after occurred between the 
advanced lines and the enemy, on the plain below. The lat- 


ter finally retired and during the night quietness prevailed. 
During the engagement Lieut. Perrin C. Judkins, Company 
G, acting aid on the brigade staff, while gallantly galloping 
to the front to encourage the troops to retain their position, 
was unhorsed by a rebel shell and thrown heavily on his 
head to the ground, rendering him insensible and causing 
death a few hours after. A portion of the First Regiment 
had been thrown out across the Catharpin road, where 
some skirmishing occurred with the enemy's advance. Dur- 
ing the forenoon a reconnoissance had been ordered by Gen. 
Hancock, consisting of a brigade of infantry, one ofcavalry, 
and a battery, under Col. Miles, on the Catharpin road 
south, where they became engaged with the enemy near 
Corbin's bridge, and later in the day became more seriously 
engaged with a rebel brigade, repulsing two of their attacks 
before returning to the main force at Todd's Tavern. On 
the morning of the 9th the Sharpshooters advanced to the 
front, and had a skirmish with rebel cavalry coming 
towards them on the road, the scouts sent out to reconnoi- 
ter following them as they fell back until ordered to return, 
when they continued the march to the left. While reconnoi- 
tering the front, the enemy's camp fires were found burning, 
thus showing that they had not been long gone. 

Franklin Viall was sent with a detail of pioneers to bury 
Lieut. Judkins, and they dug a grave close to a private cem- 
etery. But while preparing the remains at a house near by, 
some other soldiers filled the grave with guns and equip- 
ments, which they were made to remove. Viall looked the 
unfortunate officer carefully over, but could find no indica- 
tion of any contusion, bruise or wound. He said: "I under- 
stand Judkins was sw r ept from his horse by a shell, while 
leading a regiment out of a place where they were en- 
trapped and threatened with capture." The pioneers detailed 
with Comrade Viall belonged to that regiment, and they 


declared that Judkins' conduct was most heroic, and he was 
hailed as their deliverer from disaster. 


Some of the Vermonters tell how they were detached from 
the regiment for special sharpshooting, as they approached 
the high ground overlooking the valley of the Po, for 
the purpose of driving away a rebel signal party — some 
1,500 3'ards off— as Gen. Hancock did not wish to have the 
enemy observe his movements. One of our batteries did 
open on them, but the distance was too great for canister, 
while "the saucy rebels only laughed at shell." Our Sharps 
rifles being sighted for 1,000 yards only, the green-coats 
resorted to an experiment by cutting and fitting sticks to 
increase the elevation, when a few expert shots tried what 
they could do, a staff-officer with his field-glass watching 
the result. It became soon apparent, however, from the 
way the men in the distant tree top — the improvised signal 
station — looked down, according to our officer's report, 
when the bullets began to whistle near them, that our rifle- 
men were shooting under; so, longer sticks were fitted for 
sights, and now the rebels began to look above, showing 
that the balls went over. Cutting the sticks down a little, 
they were finally sighted about right, when the rebs began 
to dodge about, according to the officer with the glass, for 
our men could not distinguish them with the naked eye, but 
could see the tree and the flags. The result was, that as 
soon as the entire detail got to shooting, the surprised rebs 
abandoned their station in a hurry— their signaling proved 
a signal failure. This pleased Gen. Hancock very much, he 
having watched the shooting with much interest. 

The country we had been in since crossing the Rapidan, 
was pretty heavily wooded, with but few openings or small 
fields. Heavy woods and thick underbrush were generally 
to be found, through which ran narrow roads, making 



oftentimes difficult marching, especially in hurried move- 
ments. After leaving Todd's Tavern, we struck a more open 
country, dotted here and there with farms and some preten- 
tious residences. 


May 9-11, 1864. 

Arriving at the river Po, in the afternoon (May 9), 
where the artillery were engaged shelling the opposite 
woods and road on which the rebel trains were moving, we 
crossed in the evening, when after a crowded and very dusty 
march of a couple of miles only, scarcely seeing the files in front 
so thick was the dust, the column, worn out with fatigue, 
tame to a halt for the balance of the night, resting under 
arms. It was in this vicinity in the morning that Gen. 
Sedgwick, commanding the 6th corps, was killed by the 
enemy's sharpshooters, having boldly exposed himself to 
their fire while reconnoitering their position. He was one 
of our very best officers, and the army mourned his fall. 

Sharp fighting occurred late in the afternoon by a por- 
tion of the 2d corps while effecting a crossing of the river, 
particularly by Brooke's brigade of Barlow's division, and 
farther along by Birney's leading regiments, who met with 
considerable resistance from the enemy on the south side, 
protected as they were by a mill race. But though stoutly 
defended, our troops finally forced them back. 

Falling in at an early hour of the 10th, after changing 
front several times we finally moved to the left, where heavy 
fighting was going on ; and took up a position with the 
brigade under sharp artilley fire. In the battle in progress 
our troops met with considerable loss, particularly Gen. 


Barlow's division of the 2d corps, who, however, inflicted 
heavy blows on the enemy, repulsing his determined assaults 
twice. Gen. Gibbon's division also had a hand in— the 
Excelsior brigade, of New York, catching it bad. Gen. War- 
ren's 5th corps had a hot fight and were forced back; while 
a special charging column under Col. Upton, sent out from 
the 6th corps, gained a temporary advantage, capturing a 
line with a lot of prisoners and a couple of cannon, which 
latter he was obliged to abandon. During the whole after- 
noon it was a severe engagement, and our losses were con- 
siderable; among them, Col. Stoughton, of the Second Sharp- 
shooters, who while leading his regiment, received a gun- 
shot wound, breaking two ribs and receiving other injuries - , 
which compelled his retirement from the field until 
the 21st of June following. The regiment was in line of 
battle, the brigade in column of regiments. Col. Stoughton : 
"Every officer and man in the regiment performed with 
alacrity every duty in this charge." 

Upton's Charge.— "On the afternoon of the 10th an 
assault was determined, and a column of 12 regiments was 
organized, the command of which was assigned to me. The 
point of attack * * * was at an angle of the enemy's 
works near the Scott house, about half a mile to the left of 
the Spottsylvania road. His intrenchments were of a formid- 
able character, with abatis in front and surmounted by heavy 
logs, underneath which were loop-holes for musketry. In 
the re-entrant to the right of the house was a battery with 
traverses between the guns. There were also traverses at 
intervals along the entire work. About 100 yards to the 
rear was another line of works, partly completed and 
occupied by a second line of battle. The position was in an 
open field about 200 yards from a pine wood. * * * The 
column of attack was formed in four lines of battle. * * * 
The pieces of the first line were loaded and capped ; 
those of the other lines were loaded but not capped; bay- 
onets were fixed." Shortly after six p. m. "the lines rose, 
moved noiselessly to the edge of the wood, and then with a 


wild cheer and faces a verted, rushed for the works. Through 
a terrible front and flank fire the column advanced, quickly 
gaining the parapet. Here occurred a deadly hand-to-hand 
conflict. The enemy sitting in their pits with pieces upright, 
loaded, and with bayonets fixed, ready to impale the first 
who should leap over, absolutely refused to yield the ground. 
The first of our men who tried to surmount the works fell 
pierced through the head by musket-balls. Others seeing 
the fate of their comrades, held their pieces at arm's length 
and fired downward, while others, poising their pieces 
vertically, hurled them down upon the enemy, pinning them 
to the ground. Lieut. Johnson of the 121st New York, 
received a bayonet wound through the thigh. Private 
O'Donnell, 96th Pennsylvania, was pinned to the parapet, 
but was rescued by his comrades. A private of the 5th 
Maine, having bayoneted a rebel, was fired at by the cap- 
tain, who missing his aim, in turn shared the same fate. 
The brave man fell by a shot from the rebel lieutenant. The 
struggle lasted but a few seconds. Numbers prevailed, and, 
like a restless wave, the column poured over the works, 
quickly putting hors de combat those who resisted, and 
sending to the rear those who surrendered. Pressing for- 
ward and expanding to the right and left, the second line of 
intrenchments, its line of battle, and the battery fell into 
our hands. The column of assault had accomplished its 
task. The enemy's lines were completely broken, and an 
opening had been made for the division which was to have 
supported on our left, but it did not arrive. * * * Our 
loss in this assault was about 1,000 in killed, wounded and 
missing. The enemy lost at least 100 in killed at the first 
intrenchments, while a much heavier loss was sustained in 
his efforts to regain them. We captured between 1,000 and 
1,200 prisoners, and several stand of colors. " — Emory 

While at this point, Gen. Meade and staff appeared on 
an eminence near by, overlooking the scene of operations, 
and became subjected to a heavy fire from the rebel batteries. 
Retaining their position until apparently satisfied regarding 
the movements before them, they retired. I think it was 


three times they galloped out of view behind the crest of 
the hill, and came up again, to meet more bursting shells. 
The third and last time they moved off. It was a dangerous 
place with their flags flying above them, so they might be 
excused if they didn't stay long — and they didn't. Gen. 
Grant was also seen moving about the field behind the lines 
smoking his inevitable cigar, but escaped unharmed from the 
deadly missiles flying over. 

"During the heat of this contest the woods on the right 
and in rear of our troops took fire. The flames had now 
approached close to our line, rendering it almost impossible 
to retain the position longer. The last bloody repulse of the 
enemy had quieted him for a time, and during this lull in the 
fight General Barlow directed Brooke and Brown to aban- 
don their position and retire to the north bank of the Po. 
Their right and rear enveloped in the burning wood, their 
front assailed by overwhelming numbers of the enemy, the 
withdrawal of the troops was attended with extreme diffi- 
culty and peril; but the movement was commenced at once, 
the men displaying such coolness and steadiness as are 
rarely exhibited in the presence of dangers so appalling. It 
seemed, indeed, that these gallant soldiers were devoted to 
destruction. The enemy, perceiving that our line was retir- 
ing, again advanced, but were again promptlv checked by 
our troops, who fell back through the burning forest with 
admirable order and deliberation, though in doing so many 
of them were killed and wounded, numbers of the latter 
perishing in the flames. One section of Arnold's battery 
had been pushed forward by Captain Arnold during the 
fight to within a short distance of Brooke's line, where it 
had done effective service. When ordered to retire the horses 
attached to one of the pieces, becoming terrified by the fire 
and unmanageable, dragged the gun between two trees, 
where it became so firmly wedged that it could not be 
moved. * * * They were compelled to abandon it. This 
was the first gun ever lost by the Second Corps. * * * 
I feel that I can not speak too highly of the bravery, 


soldierly conduct, and discipline displayed by Brooke's and 
Brown's brigades on this occasion. Attacked by an entire 
division of the enemy (Heth's) they repeatedly beat him 
back, holding their ground with unyielding courage until 
they were ordered to withdraw, when they retired with 
such order and steadiness as to merit the highest praise. 
The enemy regarded this as a considerable victory, and 
General Heth published a congratulatory ordertohistroops, 
indorsed by General Hill and General Lee, praising them for 
their valor in driving us from our intrenched lines. Had not 
Barlow's fine division (then in full strength) received imper- 
ative orders to withdraw, Heth's division would have had 
no cause for congratulation. There were no more than two 
brigades of Barlow's division engaged at any one time." 
Gen. Hancock. 

The First Sharpshooters ordered over to the right, ran 
on to a masked battery which opened on them at a short 
200 yards with canister, humming right over their heads — 
we were just too close to catch it. Another shot would 
have swept us, when we were ordered behind the hill close 
by; we being unable to charge it, a deep gully and stream 
intervening. Under the hill we were soon exposed to a 
sharp flank fire of shot and shell, rendering necessary 
another change of position, not being able to respond 
with any effect— wasting ammunition was not to be 
thought of. Having fulfilled the duty required of us, guard- 
ing these different points of approach, we werefinally moved 
to the left again and rested for the night behind rude works; 
having been exposed to heavy artillery fire the entire after- 
noon, with some loss. The Second Shaipshooters suffered 
considerably this day, the First Regiment havingfew casual- 
ties. Duringthe day a dispatch was read that Butler and 
Smith had captured Petersburg; and that Sherman had 
whipped Johnston at Tunnel Hill and Dalton in Georgia. 
All of which was encouraging to hear, but all of which 
wasn't true. 


Early on the morning of the 11th the Sharpshooters were 
again sent to the front, where they formed in squads around 
some buildings, and in shallow rifle pits hastily dug with 
bayonets and tin plates, the soil being sandy. As they 
worked like beavers for self protection from their oppo- 
nents' long-range cannon and concealed sharpshooters in the 
adjacent thickets, it was not long before they had heaps of 
dirt dotting the entire plain; but it was a rough place at 
best. Here they remained in position during the clay actively 
engaged exchanging shots with the enemy, while fighting 
was going on right and left — principally cannonading, feel- 
ing each other. A heavy rain fell during the day, making 
things generally very muddy in places, and uncomfortable to 
the exposed troops. But notwithstanding the constant ex- 
posure to many dangerous missiles flying about, we suffered 
little loss; George W. Wiggins, of the New York Company 
"H, " and Hiram P. Beede of Company E, being wounded. 

While lying behind some rails, William Clelland, of 
Company K, asked permission to go after water. Sergt. 
R. W. Tyler told him that three men had been killed trying 
to get water from that spring, but if he wanted to take the 
chances he might. So Clelland crawled down to the spring 
only 10 rods away, filled his canteen and crawled out of the 
marsh into an orchard, where from behind a tree he raised 
up, when a rebel fired at him cutting a limb six inches from 
his head, but he was unable to return the compliment 
although he watched long for the opportunity, failing to 
locate the fellow, which was probably fortunate for the 
latter, as Clelland was a good shot. In the evening, under 
orders for "special duty" at division headquarters, the First 
Regiment was detached from their brigade, and, hurrying off, 
were engaged most of the night on the march over rough, 
wet roads, through thick woods and brush, rain falling 
heavily part of the time in straight, wire-like streaks, with 
naught but the struggling moon finally shining to catch 


glimpses through the general darkness, of their silent but 
hurried movement. Big, fiery shells occasionally crossed 
their path, fired at random by distant rebel batteries, seem- 
ingly anxious to make a noise to let us know they were still 
on hand. We didn't need such reminders — we knew too 
well, that we had to go, as usual, to their well-fortified posi- 
tions to fight them. 

Proceeding quietly and carefully with the division to 
the left, we came suddenly to a halt shortly before daylight 
in a field, the enemy being near by behind a black wood, 
through which occasional "pop-pops" were heard from their 
pickets. But they didn't know of our arrival. With strict 
orders to make no noise, the troops rested a short time on 
the damp ground, scarcely as much as whispering their 
thoughts, although they would once in a while have their 
jokes, their quiet laugh, no matter what they thought 
was in store for them. The very stillness of the entire move- 
ment presaged a big fight, and they were there to take it in. 
And it may seem funny to those not posted, that the boys 
called it "fun." 


May 12, 18G4,. 

Before the rising of the sun, the 2d corps approaching 
quietly the wood in front, made a daring charge on the 
enemy's works, (1,200 yards distant,) and so suddenly was 
it done that the rebels were completely surprised, and 
although they opened with canister and some sharp mus- 
ketry, yet the Unionists quickly closed on them, flanking 
them on their right, and clubbing them down to a sur- 
render; capturing one line of earthworks, a salient, 4,000 


prisoners, including Maj.-Gen. Johnson and Brig.-Gen. 
Steuart, and 20 cannon. The enemy were this time caught 
napping, rolling out of their tents in great disorder; the 
prisoners admitting they had been outwitted, and called it 
a "regular Stonewall movement." One wounded artillery- 
man informed Cyrenius Alvord, that: 

" You'uns came so quick, we'uns scarcely had time 

to shoot." 

They did shoot, however, and our regiment, out as 
flankers on the right, had a number hit. Our troops occu- 
pied the captured works, the Wisconsin and some other 
companies advancing a short distance beyond ; but finding 
the enemy in their front apparently well posted, were 
ordered back behind the line already taken, where they 
mixed in promiscuously with the other troops. These 
works were well made and capable of stout resistance. 
They left their tents standing, with ordnance and camp 
equipage, which fell into the hands of the Union foices. But 
the enemy were still in force in our front, and a desperate 
battle soon commenced ; other corps coming up to assist us 
in the struggle. The captured cannon were turned upon 
them, the Sharpshooters taking part firing the same, but as 
they were not used to sighting such ponderous guns, 
few "center shots" were probably made; yet, with loud 
hurrahs the pieces were discharged, the shot and shell being 
sent towards rebeldom, high and low. It was one of those 
occasions where the fun came in. 

The Union artillery soon getting in position, between 
the cannon's deep roar and the rattle of musketry, one deaf- 
ening uproar was kept up the entire day. It was one con- 
tinual roar from sunrise until sunset, and after a short inter- 
mission on until midnight. Again and again did the rebels 
charge the position, coming up like so many fiends, to be 
hurled back by showers of lead and crashing shell. I 


counted five different charges that day, the enemy running 
towards us at full speed, firing as they ran, and although 
they often reached the works, they couldn't get over. They 
fought desperately, running headlong to death and destruc- 
tion. They had come to us, in this fight, and they certainly 
did it bravely. Our men would rise quick and fire low, 
throwing the muzzles downward, then drop back. At one 
time, on the right, they gained a temporary advantage, but 
were finally driven away with heavy loss. Their dead and 
wounded were actually "piled up" — the wounded often 
completely covered by the dead and dying. Although they 
fought with the greatest determination, they were as deter- 
minedly resisted. The artillery on both sides was constantly 
in play, with shell and shot flying murderously about. 
Mens' heads were knocked to atoms by iron, others were 
riddled through their bodies with lead. Goodly sized trees 
were cut off, and brush mowed low; altogether, a most 
bloody carnival occurred. One tree, directly in front of 
Company G., some two feet through, was shot completely 
away by bullets alone, leaving but a bare stump full of bat- 
tered lead. This stump was afterwards taken up and sent 
to the patent office building at Washington. Notwithstand- 
ing the enemy strove so hard to regain their old position, 
they signally failed in so doing— the victory belonged to the 
Union troops. During the day and night heavy rain wired 
down again, and the soldiers at the front were hardly to be 
recognized by their powder-blackened faces, and clothes cov- 
ered with mud from their caps to their shoes, while their 
guns soon became dirty and rusty, and at times almost 
noiseless when they exploded. Heart-rending scenes were 
on that field — the horrors of war were depicted on all sides. 
Men lay in all shapes, dying in position. Here, on their 
knees stiff and stark — there, another kneeling in the act of 
loading with his arms spread, shot while ramming the cart- 



ridge — on their Hacks, their faces, ever}' way. A field officer's 
horse just behind the writer, struck with a piece of shell, was 
C&tight quickly by the officer, who with revolverat the head, 
sent the wounded animal out of suffering into eternity. A 
piece of the same shell struck down a Sharpshooter 50 feet 
in front of us — Lewis E. Crowell, Company E, (N. H.) — a 
particularly sorrowful death. The regiment had fallen back 
to replenish with ammunition, and while sitting under a tree 
with Capt. Andrews and others of his company, the unfort- 
unate comrade was struck under the left shoulder. He was 
one of three brothers, members of this company, who were 
ever ready for duty when called upon. Sergt. Wyatt and 
Gilman K. Crowell, his brother, buried him on the field 
further back, in the best possible manner under the circum- 
stances. These shells were coming on all sides thick and 
deadly. Such was Spottsylvania — one of the hardest day's 
fights of the war. 

As an instance of th^ terrific power of bursting shells : 
See you, yon man slowly limping to the rear? Wounded evi- 
dently in the thigh. Now he is hidden from view by the 
great expanse of flame and smoke of that suddenly explod- 
ing shell. This, however, soon clears away; but where is 
the wounded hobbler? That is what no one will ever tell. 
He is gone, apparently, to atoms — blown up and away into 
a thousand possible particles, leaving none so large as ever 
to be found. Not even a button or a shred of his garments. 
For such is the annihilative power of explosive shells. It 
does not often happen that men are struck that way — but 
when they are, they are surely lost in action. 

The conduct of our soldiers in line of battle, was riever 
better than in this day's fight. Every man seemed to be 
nerved with the same spirit of determination. With the 
utmost coolness the enlisted men went to work from the 
start, as if success depended on their individual action. The 


greatest care was given to the proper loading of their 
pieces, to aiming, and in firing; and though hurried shots 
were made, there was no flurry or undue excitement. 
Rather, a premeditated calculation in making everything 
count in our favor. There was very little talking, princi- 
pally of caution, such as: 

"Fire low, boys; don't forget that." 

And when they rose to shoot, they jerked down the muz- 
zles as they pulled. They were behind those works to stay 
that day, not to be driven therefrom — such was the spirit in 
which they engaged in this fight. 

There were two officers, however, who had imbibed too 
much, and in consequence, made fools of themselves. One, a 
Pennsylvania colonel, who had heretofore stood high with 
the men, on this occasion when the fighting commenced, 
rushed wildly on top of the works making an unnecessary 
and conspicuous target of himself, ordering everybody to 
follow, — "over and at them." As our orders were to hold 
our ground, no one followed his lead, despite his frantic yells 
and oaths— his brag. We expected to see him drop, and he 
did get a couple of clips that turned him about, and finally 
forced him off, slightly wounded. He was trying to distin- 
guish himself, and as he was put under arrest, he probably 
got "distinguished," or extinguished, as I don't recollect 
ever seeing that officer again. 

The other one carried a star, a New York brigadier, who 
was pretty drunk and cross, for which "example" to the 
soldiers he paid the penalty of dismissal from the service. 
Company G didn't weep, as they had some trouble with 
that* fellow before. He was going to "blow hard-tack 
through (Bill Sweet's) heart," once, when every rifle-ham- 
mer in the company cocked; he heard the click-click, and 
lowering his revolver, rode off swearing hard at us. No, 
they did n't weep when they heard he had left us. 


Enlisted men had no liquor to "revive their spirits," in 
a hot fight, so that their valor was the result of sober hon- 
est pluck. Instead of taking stimulants to 

"Screw their courage to the sticking point," 

they were obliged to rely on their sense of patriotism 
to stick and hang together, when facing death and 
danger. They were more to be depended on free 
from the effects of liquor, than had they been allowed 
its use. Whisky rations might do in cases of extreme 
fatigue, or exposure, or to ward off malaria, to revive for 
the time the fainting wounded, or in cases of sickness ; but 
should not be issued to men going into a fight — that is 
when the soldier's head wants to be clear. 

Between six and seven in the morning the 6th corps 
arrived, going into position at the salient on the right of 
the 2d, and later on became so hard pressed by the enemy, 
who seemed determined to recapture that part of the works, 
that Hancock was obliged to reinforce from the 2d corps a 
part of Wright's command. 

Again referring to Gen. Hancock's report: "The battle 
raged furiously and incessantly along the whole line from 
the right of the 6th corps to the left of Barlow's division. 
A cold drenching rain descended during this battle, in which 
the troops were constantly under heavy and destructive 
musketry fire for almost twenty hours. Our losses in killed 
and wounded were quite heavy, but we had inflicted a signal 
defeat upon the enemy. Ewell's corps of infantry was almost 
destroyed. The celebrated Stonewall brigade was captured 
nearly entire. The losses of the enemy during the day in 
killed, wounded and captured must have amounted to 
at least 10,000 men. On the morning of the 13th of May it 
was discovered that the enemy had retired to his second 
line of works, about one half-mile in rear of the line we had 
carried on the previous day, thus yielding to us the palm of 
victory. * * * Owing to the losses in action and the 
expiration of the term of service of many regiments of 


Mott's division (Fourth) it had become so reduced in num- 
bers that I issued an order on the 13th of May consolidate I 
ing it into a brigade, and assigned it to Birney's division."! 

On the 13th in the evening, they were sent out to establish' 
new picket lines on the right, which was successfully accom- ( 
plishc d, when the regiment returned to headquarters. On the 
14th, up early going to the front through deep mud. Enter- 
ing the wood they formed line on the farther side of same and 
were engaged all day watching the foeandinsharpshooting, 
again meeting with some loss. During the day heavy can- 
nonading was carried on all along the lines, some heavy 
rain also pouring down. At dark they were relieved. On 
the 15th they moved a short distance at daylight to the 
left, being again sent to front under sharp fire, taking 
position in rude rifle pits and behind trees, still engaged as 
sharpshooters. The enemy opened on them during the day 
with artillery, causing a force of infantry on picket, to fall 
back in disorder. The Sharpshooters, however held their 
position until dark, the relief arriving to find the picket for 
the day skedaddled; the Sharpshooters were then ordered 
back. During the artillery fire which was close, several men 
were hit by splinters from the logs and trees, while George 
W. Griffin, a slight but brave youth, had a shell pass 
through the top of his tall felt hat, one he had picked up 
and worn in lieu of a cap. This made the boys laugh, yell 
in derision, but none laughed louder than he. On the after- 
noon of the 16th both regiments were sent out to retake a 
line on the right, which had been abandoned. Moving for- 
ward under fire, they drove the rebels back and obtained 
possession of the works, which they held until relieved by 
infantry at nine in the evening. On the next day heavy firing 
occurred on the right, during the afternoon. We received 
this day in our corps a considerable number of new troops, 
said to be 8,000 in all, consisting principally of a division of 


what was called "heavy artillery," a branch of service 
which, while it took amazingly in the later enlistments, 
did not confine their efforts to handling ponderous siege 
guns in fortifications, but required also, when the service 
demanded, that they should carry muskets and fight with 
them in line of battle. So in this way, these ''heavies" 
had to help us out; and they were a great acquisition, some 
of the regiments numbering as high as 1,800 men. Ofcourse, 
they brought with them into the field the full complement 
of a soldier; as a result, the old boys never looked far for a 
good blanket or new overcoat when night came arounr 1 , 
thrown wide and scattered far by the new men after they 
got into their first fight. The division was under command 
of Gen. Tyler. The "Corcoran Legion" of infantry were 
with them, going into Gibbon's division. On the 18th the 
enemy opened with artillery and musketry on our left, Han-! 
cock's 1st and 2d divisions being severely engaged for several 
hours; there was also heavy artillery firing on the right 
during the day. 

"Gibbon's and Barlow's divisions traversed the same 
ground which we had fought so desperately on six days 
since, and as but a portion of the dead of that day's (12th) 
contest had been buried, the stench which arose from them 
was so sickening and terrible that many of the men and 
officers became deathly sick from it. The appearance of the 
dead who had been exposed to the sun so long was horrible 
in the extreme as we marched past and over them — ^ sight 
never to be forgotten by those who witnessed it." — Gen. 

About noon the Sharpshooters moved to the right, 
where they remained in position among the pines until 
night, when they finally moved off again "to the left," rest- 
ing at daylight of the 19th in a large open field beyond the 
Court House, near the river Nv. 



Ma3' 19, 1864-. 

Late in the afternoon Gen. Tj'ler's "heavy" division, 
stationed on the Fredericksburg road at a point called 
"Harris House," was attacked severely by Ewell's corps 
who continued the fight up to nine P. m., when the enemy 
were forced to retreat across the Ny ; two brigades ofBirney 
having gone in on the right, with some 5th corps troops on 
the left of Tyler, assisting greatly in the rebels' repulse. A 
part of the Second Sharpshooters were engaged in this affair, 
of which Lieut. Wra. H. Humphrey, of Company E, laconi- 
cally remarks: "May 19, Gen. Birney gave the company a 
day off. We were near his headquarters, when up the road 
in our rear we heard firing, 'fall in, Sharpshooters;' we go 
on the double-quick and drive back Ewell's rebels — Company 
E having two wounded, and that is all the rest we got." 
Birney's brigades captured 500 prisoners, during this even- 
ing and the morning of the 20th. 

"The loss of the enemy in this action in killed and 
wounded was severe. About 400 prisoners fell into our 
hands. This was the first engagement in which the troops 
of General Tyler's division had participated. They con- 
ducted themselves handsomely, firmly sustaining the shock 
of the enemy's attack, until the arrival of Birney and the 
troops of the 5th corps."— Hancock. 

The official return of casualties in the Union forces at 
and around Spottsylvania May 8-21, 1864, show— Killed: 
2,725; wounded: 13,416; missing 2,258; total: 18,399. 


Co. B.— Wounded: First Sergt. Phillip E. Sands, mor- 
tal; Horace A. Seward, severe. 


Co. C— Killed 
Co. E.— Killed 

Co. F.— Killed 

Frank R. Edgerton, Daniel Tillapaugh. 
Lewis E. Crowell. 

Henry Mattocks, Thomas Brown, John 
Bowen. Wounded: Amos A. Smith, J. E. Chase. 

Co. G. — Wounded: Corp. Wesley Armfield, leg, slight; 
Privates George A. Denniston, head, mortal; William Mc- 
Quivey, right arm. 

Co. H. — Wounded: Harvey Mathews. 

Co. K.— Killed: Darius Hall. Wounded : William Clel- 
land, right hip; Calvin Smith, right breast; George H. 
Smith, right leg. 

On the 21st the general movement to the left was 
resumed. Crossing the Richmond & Fredericksburg rail- 
way they halted for a short time about noon, the day being 
hot and the men fatigued, having traveled over 20 miles 
before getting breakfast. Passing Milford Station in the 
afternoon they came to a halt two miles south, and in the 
evening our men were sent out to establish the picket lines, 
where they remained until the next morning, during which 
time some firing occurred on the right of the line. The 22d 
they were again in the front on picket, but were relieved at 
dark, the troops in the rear fortifying. On the 23d they 
moved on, passing by Chesterfield a couple of miles south, 
where they took part in another engagement. 


May 23-26, 1864. 

Companies B and G, First Regiment, were ordered out 
to support a battery, where they remained until dark under 
artillery fire from both sides, being in advance of the Union 
gunners, and making long-range shots with the telescope 



rifle, a few of which were carried in the regiment, and were 
known by the name of "the heavies." On their right, the 
2d and 3d brigades, under Cols. Pierce and Egan, became 
hotly engaged in a charge, driving the enemy back and 
obtaining a position on the river bank. The progress of 
this affair was carefully watched from a half-fallen tree by 
Franklin Yiall, a true and ever-ready soldier, who reported 
from his high position as follows : . 

"Now they're at it ! Halloo ! our men got it that time. 
But they rally again, and now they are in it hot and heavy. 
Halloo! there goes a line back. I can't tell which one, the 
smoke's too thick. But it makes no difference, for either the 
enemy are falling back, or our men advancing — Hurrah, 
boys ! it's all right, now ! The stars and stripes wave over 
the river bank." 

And jumping from his elevated position to the ground, 
he took his place in the skirmish line. The next morning 
(24th) before daybreak we were placed behind breastworks 
at the river, built during the night, the enemy being posted 
under cover opposite, with a redoubt containing more 
troops on a rise of ground behind them. Soon after sunrise 
sharpshooting began, and was kept up at intervals until 
eight o'clock, when troops began to cross over a bridge the 
rebels had been unable to destroy, the railway bridge to our 
left being in flames. The rebel artillery now opened from 
the right furiously, but the crossing was effected with little 
injury and the redoubt captured under fire, with some artil- 
lery and several hundred prisoners, the Second Regiment 
who led the charge meeting with serious casualties. The 
artillery firing during the movement was kept up on both 
sides without intermission. The First Sharpshooters soon 
after crossed and advanced beyond the captured works to 
a shady grove, near a large and considerably dilapidated 
mansion known as Fox's house, which at times was under 
fire from the rebel pickets and sharpshooters. To stop this 


shooting, Capt. John Wilson commanding First Regiment 
detailed Lieut. Stevens with 40 men, who were sent out on 
the left of the line of infantry skirmishers and advanced over 
a large field several hundred yards, under a close and heavy 
fire from the enemy. Here the lieutenant was ordered to 
swing his men around and hold some log buildings or quar- 
ters near the Confederate lines, from whence this persistent 
firing had been kept up. Rushing forward on double-quick, 
firing rapidly as they ran, the place was soon occupied on 
the heels of the retreating foe, and held until late in the day. 
While here, sharp exchanges took place at distances varying 
from 300 to 1,000 yards, resulting in close shooting on both 
sides. But we had accomplished the purpose for which we 
were sent out, the stopping of rebel bullets in and around 
Fox's place. During the day a Union force appeared on the 
left of our detail, and by a rapid movement put a body of 
the enemy to flight while trying to cross the railroad which 
ran along close to the left of our position at the huts, the 
Johnnies running wildly back to the ridge where their bat- 
teries were planted. Our men getting out of ammunition 
were finally relieved by another detachment, after repeated 
signals for aid, with the enemy threatening, and liable at 
any moment to crowd them out from behind the rude huts; 
when they fell back under the rebel fire to the regiment at 

At this place the officer in charge ran the gauntlet of 
scores of bullets traversing the open ground, to get three 
hang-back fellows up to the exact front. As our campaigns 
increased the orders became more severe, particularly in 
regard to straggling; and for which the line officer com- 
manding the company was held responsible. So that when 
it came to going back over a battle field under fire, to 
recover and bring forward one or more of his command, 
who had dropped out of sight behind a big log or other 
pretty safe place, if the officer didn't exactly swear at his 


luck — and he probably did — he at least gave forcible notice 
that it wasno joke to be made a special target of, by yank- 
ing the delinquents out from their snug cover. 

The line officer (who in many cases came from the ranks 
themselves) incurred the hardships of the enlisted men, 
besides had the responsibility upon them for the proper per- 
formance of the duties assigned, and often has it happened 
that they have been picked off by the enemy, simply because 
of the double danger encountered, in movements brought 
about by the failure through carelessness or otherwise of 
the men, to follow the strict letter of their instructions. 
This is where the regular soldier was supposed to be 
superior to the volunteer; not in all cases, or probably very 
many, but some of the latter were to be found in all organi- 
zations who knew better than their officers, and as a result, 
were too decidedly heedless of orders, to be depended on. 
Such men required watching. On the other hand, there 
were men in the volunteer service, and I may safely say a 
large majority, that could not be surpassed in military 
behavior, under the hottest fires of the hardest battles. 

The enemy had been busily engaged shelling the troops 
around the Fox grounds, where breastworks were being 
thrown up in the field by our soldiers. Some of these shells 
passed through the grove where the regimental reserve had 
remained, and where several noted Union generals had con- 
gregated. The central figure of the group was Gen. Han- 
cock, whose tall, handsome and commanding person looked 
every inch the brave soldier he had long before proven him- 
self to be. On his left stood honest, though sometime unfort- 
unate, Burnside; on the right the gallant division com- 
mander, Birney; while immediately in front facing them 
was Crittenden. An earnest consultation took place, the 
rebel shell passing occasionally over their heads as if hunt- 
ing for somebody. Of course they were closely observed by 
the green-coated riflemen, who tried to discern from their 



looks and gestures, rather than to hear their low-toned 
conversation, what was the coming programme. Finally, 
thev broke up the council and at once repaired to the house 
preparatory to mounting and away! — all but Hancock — it 
was his headquarters. And not a moment too soon did 
thev leave their meeting place, for right there is where these 
four Union generals just missed being shattered to death, as 
they had scarcely moved around to the front of the house, 
when a searching shell passing through a Sharpshooter's 
knapsack, landed in the exact spot they had a moment 
before occupied, exploding with terrific force, but luckily 

This knapsack belonged to Richard W. Tyler, of Com- 
pany K, who had set it against a tree in the front of the 
garden, and he looked in vain for the smallest fragment, to 
say nothing of his lost letters, sundry daguerreotypes I we 
had no photographs then), and other articles of more or less 
value. All were gone forever. After the startling nature of 
the explosion and the miraculous escape had passed by, the 
comrades had a big laugh at Dick and his misfortune. But 
Sergt. Tyler was soon after placed in a position whereby he 
did not have to draw another knapsack, on account of the 
faithful, and I may add gallant, Lieut. C. W. Thorp, being 
forced to resign on surgeon's certificate the next day, the 
25th, having previously been seriously sick with typhoid 
fever, the effects of w r hich no doubt remained ; and Tyler 
was promoted first lieutenant and assumed command of the 
company, in the absence of Capt. Xash, who had been cap- 
tured by the enemy while acting as staff officer. 

While expecting to receive orders to charge the enemy's 
position, at about sunset a drenching rain poured down 
and the wind blew with great violence, causing further oper- 
ations for the day to cease. On the 25th the First Sharp- 
shooters rejoined their brigade, remaining quiet in the field 
behind works that had been hurriedlv built. While here. 


Quartermaster Marden arrived at the front with the regi- 
mental teams with provisions and clothing, which was a 
welcome sight to the command, especially as he brought 
them letters from home. But he was not wholly unexpected, 
because the boys knew Marden would come just as soon as 
it was possible for him to do so — for our quartermaster was 
a hard worker in the interest of the regiment, and suffered 
his share of the hardships with the soldiers. 

On the 26th in the afternoon heavy firing occurred right 
and left; in the evening the Sharpshooters moved quietly off 
to the right, into a deep wood, relieving Burnside's men on 
picket, where they remained until midnight, the darkness 
being so intense it was with great difficulty they found their 
way out; and then not until Wilson and Stevens had first 
traced the way, after almost running on to the rebel lines, 
made manifest by a low but determined "halt! " which they 
didn't do, however, but left the puzzled Johnny to discover 
nothing in his front but fast retreating steps. And there 
Capt. Wilson for once admitted he was scared, not for him- 
self but for the regiment, for they were lost. This particu- 
lar scene of picket duty, in that black, lonely wood, fits so 
well with the following choice composition illustrative of 
the trials of the sentinel on picket, the most important 
dut} r performed by a soldier, that I borrow it for the occasion 
from Love's "Wisconsin in the War of the Rebellion" — by 
the way, one of the completest state histories ever written. 
These worthy lines are supposed to have originated with 
Lieut. George Bleyer, 24th Wis. Vols., killed at Stone River; 
and will no doubt prove a most interesting as well as excit- 
ing description of picket duty; which, however, does not 
always end so happily. 

(Captain Jack.) 


On Picket. 

'Tis midnight; in a lonely strip of wood 
With darkness draped — a pall of solitude — 
I walk my beat with measured step and slow, 
Then, like a drunkard, stagger to and fro, 
Intoxicated by the drugs of sleep ; 
My eyes are heavy, yet strict vigils keep; 
Imagination fills my drowsy brain 
With scenes of battles— fields of maimed and slain; 
The stumps and bushes into phantoms grow, 
The shadows shape themselves into the foe. 
There is no moon, and not a star I see, 
Altho' I know the3 r shine on shrub and tree, 
By the faint streaks of silvery, wandering light, 
That now and then bewilder sense and sight. 
Like the poor felon in his dungeon deep, 
I pray each beam my company to keep, 
And light my lone and solitary place. 
How long will morning screen her rosy face ? 
Hark! hear that crash among the bush and leaves- 
Still, still, my nervous heart, your throbbing heaves! 
You flutter like some frightened captive bird. 
Hush ! for your throbs by others may be heard, 
And thus betray the covert where I stand, 
Grasping my musket with a firmer hand ; 
My drowsy eyes open wide and peer 
Into the gloom. Again the noise I hear ; 
And now a form of tall, gigantic size, 
From out the earth, as 'twere, I see arise. 
Slowly it moves, but with its forward strides 
Into a human form and shape it glides. 
My heart beats slow again, my speech I've found, 
My challenge stern the ghostly woods resound ; 
It proves a "friend," and not a wily foe 
The secret talisman it whispers low ; 
I let it pass toward the sleepy camp : 
A soldier from a chicken forage tramp. 


Rejoining the command after much difficulty, they fell 
back and recrossed the river among the last of the Union 
forces shortly before daylight. The troops in the meantime 
had been tearing up the Richmond & Fredericksburg railroad 
for several miles, bending rails, burning ties, etc. At an 
early hour on the morning of the 27th, the Union army 
having all recrossed the North Anna, the bridge was burned 
and the troops moved off again to the left, laughing at the 
rebel cheers on the opposite side of the stream as they 
charged the deserted works. 

The march resumed in the afternoon, the road being 
lined with dead horses for many miles, the result of some 
sharp cavalry skirmishing ahead of the advancing columns. 
The carcasses were tumbled about in all manner of shapes, 
presenting a sight almost sickening, even to the veteran 
soldier; while occasionally dead men were found on either 
side, covered with dust and dirt to that extent as at times 
to scarcely distinguish the blue from the gray. After march- 
ing until midnight, the road crowded with teams and troopr t 
we rested in field until daylight of the 28th, when, marching 
again until late in the afternoon, the Sharpshooters crossed 
the Pamunkey at Hanovertown, halting near by in a field 
where they remained until noon of the following day. 
Advancing then to cross-roads near Salem Church, halting 
on the Mechanicsville road some eight miles from the latter 
place, they commenced fortifying. After building a good 
line of works they left them, and changing position several 
times in the evening, finally rested under arms in the field. 

While proceeding on this march, still on the line of the 
North Anna, a squad of Sharpshooters under Sergt. Eli 
Cook, of Company I, were called on to operate against the 
enemy's batteries that had been run on to a favorable posi- 
tion to enfilade the road. Cook's command took their 
position in tree tops, behind rocks and stumps, without 
having been seen. Presently a rifle report from a high tree 


caused the rebel cannoniers to respond, and the work began 
from 400 to 600 yards range — close enough for our men to 
get in good shots. Three full batteries opened on them one 
round, when Berdan's men had them ranged and sighted. 
They would try to load their pieces by reaching up under the 
muzzle, but the boys could send a Sharps rifle ball so com- 
pletely in the muzzles of their cannon, at this distance, that 
they could not load. They stuck up one battery flag, and 
this was at once shot away and our men just yelled. They 
tried every possible way to get in a shot, but as the Sharp- 
shooters had orders not to let them load again, their cannon 
became subject to the will of Sergt. Cook's force, who kept 
them quiet until our passing troops had gone on, when the 
riflemen crawled from view, and pushing on joined the 


May 30, 31, June 1. 

Falling in before daybreak of the 30th, the First Sharp- 
shooters were finally posted on the edge of a ravine within 
300 yards of the rebel works, which position was taken up 
after daylight. Temporary breastworks of rails were 
hastily built, under the enemy's fire, and the men were kept 
busy sharpshooting until late in the afternoon when they 
were relieved. Considerable fighting occurred during the 
day, and at night heavy cannonading, our side sending over 
a number of mortar shells. Late in the evening Brooke's 
brigade made a dash to our left, carrying a line of the 
enemy's rifle pits. On the 31st we crossed a small stream 
known as Swift Run, occupying the enemy's line, — a series 
of trenches, — the Second Regiment having skirmished ahead. 
Lieut. Humphrey reports: " We were told by Gen. Grant in 


person, to go across the creek, if we had to surrender when 
we got there, but we did not surrender; we took 137 of the 
27th North Carolina prisoners and held the works that 

Capt. Wilson galloping up, subject to the enemy's fire from 
the woods in front, ordered the First Sharpshooters out of 
the works, when deploying out over the open field to the left, 
under heavy fire front and flank, they rapidly advanced in 
skirmish line, actually running towards the enemy, and 
reached the position assigned them on the Richmond road 
capturing several soldiers of Breckinridge's command. Under 
the severe fire from the woods on their left, while crossing 
the plain several were hit in the movement, while the ground 
under their rapid feet and otherwise about them, was con- 
tinually dusted by the hundreds of spattering bullets from 
the rebel force in the forest. Capt. Wilson gallantly led the 
the regiment, mounted, receiving a rattling fire about him 
as he galloped to and fro issuing his orders. Occupying this 
position far down the road in the advance, with a detail 
under Lieut. Stevens still farther ahead, to the left, close up 
to the enemy in the woods, within speaking distance, caus- 
ing close shooting and much danger, they remained under fire 
the entire day, and not until eleven o'clock that night were 
they ordered back to a field in the rear, to sup and rest. A 
few hours later they moved into a pine wood, where they 
remained until daylight of June 1st, when they were hurried 
into line owing to the reported advance of the enemy 
on the right, over the grounds vacated the night 
before by the 6th corps, which at the time was unoccupied. 
Skirmishing through the timber they reached the empty 
breastworks, forming line to the right of the division, 
having captured a number of unarmed men who had come 
over they said to get some "fresh beef," which was lying 
where slaughtered, left by the troops that were withdrawn 
during the night. In front to our right, in plain view with 


their flags above them, was observed a small body of the 
enemy, reported by Capt. Wilson to be "Billy Mahone's 
men," and during the day he was very anxious to move on 
them to attempt their capture, although he had no orders 
to do so, but he finally abandoned the enterprise. Remain- 
ing where they were until dark, with occasional exchange of 
shots by the vedettes, they then moved off via Salem Cross 
Roads, arriving at Cold Harbor in the forenoon of June 2d. 
Capt. Aschmann had a narrow escape on the 30th, by a 
shot across his chin, whereby he lost his goatee. He was 
"awful mad" when hit, for fear the goatee wouldn't grow 
out again. 


Co. A. — Wounded: Capt. Aschmann, chin, slight. 

Co. B. — Killed: Thaddeus Hadden; Francis Snyder, 
mortal wound. 

Co. E. — Wounded : Lieut. Isaac Davis, George A. Collins. 

Co. H. — Wounded: John Snyder, mortally. 

Co. K. — Wounded: Lewis C. Bitton, slight, wouldn't 
leave company. 


Jane 1-5,1864. 

Heavy fighting at this point had taken place before the 
Sharpshooters arrived. In fact, Gen. Sheridan's cavalry 
forces had succeeded in occup} r ing the position here as long 
back as the 21st of May, after an obstinate fight with the 
enemy's cavalry and infantry combined, and with orders to 
hold on. they did so until the morning of June 1st, when a 
desperate attack was made to retake the place, the enemy 
being repulsed, our cavalry fighting nobly. The 6th corps 


under Wright, who came into command by the death of 
Sedgwick, now coming up from the right, and from the left 
reinforcements from the Army of the James under Baldy 
Smith — Lee also reinforcing his lines— a severe battle fol- 
lowed. The attack was made by the two Union corps, and 
an advanced line taken with several hundred prisoners. 
Farther, however, they could not go, the interior breast- 
works being too strong for them. In this assault the Union 
army lost 2,000 killed and wounded, but the position 
secured was held. Hancock's corps coming in later, took no 
part in this day's fight. The next day was occupied in pre- 
paring for another and still greater attack. On the 3d, 
when the great battle of the engagement here was fought — 
a battle that cost us many lives and was barren of any suc- 
cessful result farther than to hold our ground — Hancock's 
corps at daybreak, at the given signal, rushed over their 
works, for our troops had intrenched,— they had learned to 
fortify on this campaign, — Barlow's division on the left, 
with Gibbon and Birney, ba\^onets fixed, ready for a grand 
charge. Gen. Barlow's troops had a clean sweep at first r 
driving everything before them, making some captures — 
men and guns. But soon they met such disastrous vollies, 
such a storm of balls, that in 10 minutes time they were 
beaten, and recoiling under the terrible fire — nothing abat- 
ing — Barlow's line got back behind a ridge, those that 
could, many lying in front in a depressed roadway unable 
to get out, but held there for hours — till night— by the exult- 
ing enemy. Meanwhile Gibbon's men, supported by Birney, 
made a gallant effort to cross the rebel works, Gibbon's bri- 
gades charging close up, almost on top of them. The 
intrenched enemy behind had the advantage, as we did of 
them at Spottsylvauia, and our men had to fall back. 

Gibbon's line was unfortunately cut in two by a marsh,, 
which widened as the line neared the enemy's works. The 


country over which he advanced was cut up by ravines. 
The line moved gallantly forward, however, until close to 
the enemy's works, but was not able to advance farther 
under the destructive fire. — Hancock. 

Col. Smyth, commanding 3d brigade, 2d division, says: 
"At half past four a. M.June 3d, I was ordered to attack the 
enemy. I formed my brigade in line of battle and advanced, 
and charged the enemy's works. When the command 
arrived at from 60 to 100 yards from the enemy's works the 
ranks had become so thinned and the fire from the enemy's 
artillery and musketry was so destructive that the men 
were compelled to halt and seek such shelter as presented 
itself. In this position the command soon erected a rude 
breastwork. At nine a. m. Berdan's Sharpshooters and a 
battalion of the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery 
reported to me. I deplo\ T ed part of the Sharpshooters in 
front as skirmishers, and held the battalion of 1st Mass. 
Heavy Artillery in reserve." 

In closing his report of the 4th epoch of the campaign, 
Gen. Hancock said of the 2d corps : "The first report of 
casualties after the action, w r hich was unusually short, 
hardly an hour in duration, showed a loss of 3,024. Among 
officers the loss had been without precedent. I had to 
mourn the loss of those who had hitherto been foremost and 
most daring and brilliant in action. * * * When it is 
remembered that I had only my two smallest divisions 
actually engaged, it will be seen that the loss in command- 
ers was unusually severe. It was a blow to the corps from 
which it did not soon recover." 

The 6th corps and Smith's troops also found their brave 
attacks useless, the principal impression they made was in 
their own losses. Burnside later on had got a flank move- 
ment, but before he could execute it, Gen. Meade ordered 
further operations for the day to cease. A famous writer 
speaking of this charge, tells how "in the short space of 10 
minutes, 12,000 Union soldiers lay writhing on the sod." 


Particularly was this the case with Barlow's first line, 
Miles' and Brooke's brigades, "who rushed right up to the 
rebel guns, a new regiment (7th New York Heavy Artillery) 
1,600 strong, being the first on the works, capturing 300 
prisoners, one color and four cannon; while the second line 
stopped short behind the sunken road — they quickly sur- 
veyed it as a death trap and came to a decided halt. The 
7th heavy artillery regiment lost heavily, while the total 
loss of both brigades— the first line— was about 1,300, or 
about 1,500 for Barlow's division. Gibbon's loss on the 
right, was over 1,600; Birney about 200, making a totality 
of over 3,000 in the 2d corps; with an official Union loss at 
Cold Harbor and vicinity, June 2-15, of 12,738: Killed, 
1,845, wounded 9,077, missing 1,816. Gen. Meade wished 
to have the attack renewed in the evening, but Gen. Han- 
cock advised against it as being a useless effort. 

The Confederates occupied the ground held by the 5th 
corps two years before, at Gaines' Mill, while Meade's 
troops were now in the rebel places. Then, Porter held his 
position with half the number of his opponents, in an open 
fight without breastworks— little used those days — now, Lee 
had fortified, and very strongly, so that the battle was but 
a repetition of loss of life without any perceptible gain to 
the Union arms except that the Confederates, whose losses 
were slight as compared to ours, — as 100 is to 1,000, — could 
less afford to lose men than our side with a great northern 
reserve still remaining to be drawn from. 

After the morning's assault of the 3d of June, Birney's 
division being now in reserve, the Sharpshooters were 
engaged during the day in front of Gen. Gibbon's division 
fighting the enemy's musketry and artillery, while the 
troops in their rear were employed in constructing addi- 
tional breastworks. Some sharp fighting, however, was 
going on at other points on the line. While on duty here 
the writer was knocked flat to the ground by a glancing 


shot across his right shoulder, but as it didn't draw blood 
the boys of his command yelled: "You can't go back on 
that, you've got to stay," and I did stay. In fact, I long ago 
learned that in such a place as that, the safest place was 
with the company unless at least, you could "show blood." 
It was only another of those miraculous escapes, for had 
the ball struck me square in the shoulder I never would 
have written these lines. In the evening the Sharpshooters 
were recalled from the front, and while forming the regiment 
in a small field were suddenly exposed to a terrible fire of 
shot and shell, front, flank and rear, the shells exploding 
close over them, for they lay flat, being caught in a position 
they could not escape 'from. It was during the disastrous 
charge of the enemy on the Union lines at dusk. After it 
was over, they retired a short distance to the rear to rest 
for the night. On the 4th and 5th they were employed on 
the same dangerous duty, were greatly exposed, suffering 
more or less loss. On the 4th one of our men, Emery 
Munsell, carrying a 28 pound telescope rifle, was uncere- 
moniously knocked head-first into the brush by a retreating 
horseman, during a sudden and well-directed discharge 
from the enemy's line. Munsell for a few moments felt as if 
he was wounded in fifty places, and would liked to have 
given the runaway some of the same kind of wounds. He 
didn't swear any — he "didn't have time." 

On the evening of the 5th they moved to the left, through 
heavy brush and woods in close proximity to the rebel lines, 
halting late at night 100 yards from the enemy's pickets, 
near Barker's Mills, remaining under arms till daylight. 
Surely the situations were trying, for the Sharpshooters 
had now been more or less under fire, 24 days out of 31. 


Co. C— Killed: John Robinson; W. H. Thompson, 
mortally wounded. 


Co. F. — Killed : Joseph Bickford ; Alvin Babcock, 
mortally wounded, and three others slight. Almon D. 
Griffin, wounded on picket June 12. 

Co. G.— Killed: Private Conrad Murat. Wounded 
Lieut. C. A. Stevens, right shoulder, slight; Corp. Franklin 
Viall and Private Alvin Sherman, scalp wounds, slight. 

Co. H.— Wounded: Private Aaron H. Fuller. 

Co. I. — Killed: Sergt. Benjamin Shay and James Curtis. 
Wounded ; Ryon E. Williams. 

Co. K— Wounded: Lewis C. Bitton, lost right foot by 
solid sliot. 


While halting near Barker's Mills a novel scene occurred 
on the 8th of June. A newspaper reporter rode under guard, 
along the lines, with, a hard-tack box strapped on his back 
bearing this inscription: "Libeller of the Press." A 
mounted bugler rode in front sounding the call "Attention ! " 
The reporter, who had been ordered out of the army for 
saying what he ought not, in his sensational dispatches — 
violating existing orders — was greeted by the soldiers with 
enquiries for the "latest news," with a desire to "send him 
to the front," also with numerous other remarks tending to 
provoke his deepest disgust. This was a case of being 
retired in disgrace, similar to that of the "poor old soldier" 
who gets drummed out. The man narrowly escaped being 
shot by order of Gen. Burnside for some previous act 
prejudicial to military methods ; and to Gen. Grant, from 
whom he had stolen by means of sneaking up, the result of 
private consultations with Meade during the Wilderness 
battles, this correspondent Swinton, owed his life, and 
could afford to be extremely thankful for a mitigation of the 
sentence whereby he was only to be expelled from the army, 
with orders never to return. 



Remaining near Barker's Mills, their old camping 
ground two years before, until the night of the 12th, dur- 
ing which time clothes and rations were issued, they finally 
moved away quietly, still to the left, crossing the Chick- 
ahominy at Long Bridge early on the 13th, and marching 
by the old "held" at Charles City Cross Roads (Glendale), 
reached the Court House at night where they rested till 
the following day. On the afternoon of the 14th the Sharp- 
shooters crossed James river by steamboat at Wilcox Land- 
ing, halting a short distance above in a brushy field for the 
night, being out of rations. It was now plain to be seen 
that Grant could not attack Richmond over McClellan's old 
ground as he wished to, but would operate south of the 
rebel capital on the line of the James and Appomattox, 
with Petersburg (23 miles from Richmond) his chief point 
of attack. 

It was well understood by both Gens. Butler and 
Meade before starting on the campaign that it was my 
intention to put both their armies south of the James river 
in case of failure to destrov Lee without it. — U. S. Grant. 


The fighting around Petersburg comprised many battles 
and at different points, extending from the Appomattox 
river east of the city and southerly four or five miles, and 
these actions wherein the Sharpshooters were engaged, are 
principally distinguished by the names given as they 

On the loth at eleven a. m. we received orders to march, 
the expected rations not having arrived, and after a hot, 
dusty tramp, arrived after dark in the vicinity of Peters- 


burg, after the fighting for the day by the troops of the 
Army of the James was over. 

According to Gen. Grant, it appears that Hancock was 
uninformed of what he was expected to do on crossing the 
James, although Gen. Meade had been directed to push him 
forward to back up Baldy Smith in his attack that day on 
the works before Petersburg. Thus, the waiting for the 
necessary rations ordered by Gen. Grant from Bermuda 
Hundred which failed to come, kept him back just long 
enough to be too late. Grant says if Hancock had been 
notified, he with his usual promptness would have reached 
Petersburg by four p. m. An unfortunate mistake, which if 
it had not occurred might have been the saving of many 
lives in decreased battles. on the morning of the 16th the Sharpshooters 
proceeded hurriedly to dispatch their simple breakfast of 
coffee, their haversacks being short of eatables, with not 
even a cracker to be had ; they having but four hours sleep 
following the march from James river and about the works 
along the front of Petersburg, from eleven a. m. to one a. m. 
— 14 hours. It was not long before the enemy commenced 
throwing shell, with little damage. During the past night 
the rebel troops were heard arriving from the vicinity of 
Richmond by railway, so that it was evident they were in 
force in our front. Had the 2d corps arrived in timetohave 
taken part in the fighting of the clay previous, it is quite 
possible that Petersburg would have fallen into Union hands 
before Lee could have reinforced the place. At an early 
hour of the 16th the division artillery opened with rifled 
Parrots on the city, which could be seen two miles away, 
while troops on the right, near the Appomattox, caused 
the rebel pickets to hurriedly retire over a large field to 
their lines immediately in front of the city; the Union 
forces now occupying lines captured the day previous by 
the troops under Butler, white and black. 



June 16, 1864. 

The First Sharpshooters, 175 strong under command 
of Capt. John Wilson, while holding a position on a road 
leading to Petersburg, received orders to double-quick 
down the same to assist in the discomfiture of the retiring 
Confederates. Obeying promptly, the men hurried forward 
until brought in close proximity to the rebel riflemen posted 
along the small stream above named. At this place they 
remained until the afternoon guarding the road and having 
sharp exchanges at short range with the enemy, meeting 
with some loss on our side. The enemy were finally driven 
out of their advanced rifle pits at this point after much 
resistance; the fences and other obstructions being removed 
by our reserve, the ground was cleared, ready for any 
assault that might be determined on by our corps com- 
mander. One of the first men shot on taking this position 
was James Heath, of Michigan, who carried a 34-pound 
telescope rifle, the heaviest in the regiment, and which, as he 
went down, fell with a heavy blow in the middle of the 
road. This rifle was immediately turned over to James 
Ragin, of Wisconsin, who was sent to the rear by Capt. 
Wilson, to put it in thorough repair before attempting to 
use it. The giving of these telescopic rifles but few of which 
were now carried, at this period of our service, was in the 
nature of a mark of honor, as the Sharpshooter thus armed 
was considered an independent character, used only for 
special service, with the privilege of going to any part of 
the line where in his own judgment he could do the most 


good. It is therefore sufficient, in naming the men carrying 
these ponderous rifles, to show that they were among our 
most trusty soldiers and best shots. A small party of 
scouts under Lieut. Stevens having been sent out, later on, 
to the left of the road proceeded under sharp, close fire to 
the designated position, but finding the enemy in much 
greater force close at hand, both in their immediate front 
and on the flank, from whom they received a warm 
reception, it was determined to report back the condition of 
affairs, the detail not being strong enough to hold their 
ground any length of time, especially should an advance be 
made, which was threatened. The officer reporting back in 
person under a storm of bullets "barking his clothes," for 
they could see every movement, after a short consultation 
he received orders to withdraw his party, which was 
fortunately done without loss. Later in the day, the regi- 
ment moved to the left of the road, where the detail had 
previously been, and with this necessary strength, at once 
established an advanced line at this important point, close 
up to the rebel works,— not a hundred yards between them, 
—and about sunset became suddenly subjected to a severe 
attack. But notwithstanding the hundreds of balls flying 
about them, they held their ground without flinching, 
although their cover was only a small slope of ground. The 
brigade came up soon after under Col. Macallister, a bold 
leader, and checked the enemy, the firing being very heavy 
on both sides until long after night had come upon them, 
the long lines of flashing guns on either side giving a grand 
but terrific aspect to the scene. The Sharpshooters after 
the night fight was over, were sent to the rear to rest, and 
to procure rations brought up during the afternoon, of 
which they were greatly in need, the first received since 
leaving Cold Harbor. 



Co. B.— Wounded : Sergt. Thomas Smith, in leg, mortal; 
John W. Kenny, arm; Stephen C. James, right arm; John 

Co. C— James Heath, killed. 

Co. F.— Caspar B. Kent, killed. 

On June 17th Companies B, E, and G were sent to the 
front of Gen. Barlow's division, where they were engaged 
in sharpshooting until nightfall. Company F was also out 
further to the left, in hastily prepared intrenchments, where 
they had hot work with the enemy, whose rifle pits were 
said to be but 50 yards in their front, shooting upwards of 
100 rounds per man. It proved an exciting day for the 
Vermonters, who were kept busy dodging the rebel bullets 
and sending back good shots in return. It was close work, 
and the Sharpshooters had plenty of it before Petersburg. 
Running out of cartridges, Capt. Merriman sent Sergt. 
Cassius Peck after more, and twice he passed over the places 
of danger commanded by rebel guns, getting two haversacks 
filled, which enabled Company F to hold their greatly 
threatened position. 

During the afternoon a portion of the 9th corps on the left 
of the three first named companies, made a daring charge 
on to the rebel works, but failing, they retired, crowding 
back over our own works in considerable disorder, leaving 
their dead and wounded in the cornfields in long rows, to 
mark their destructive course in their futile attempt. Soon 
again, however, another assault was ordered, this time by 
the combined forces of Hancock and Burnside (2d and 9th 
corps), which resulted in driving the enemy away, capturing 
their fronting lines; an important gain to our side, although 
at fearful cost in casualties — over 3,000 killed and wounded. 
At dark the Sharpshooters were called in, short of ammu- 
nition, retiring to the field behind the works, where they 


re-formed with the other companies, h T ing on their arms for 
the night, exposed to stray bullets which frequently came 
among them, causing the loss of one killed and several 
wounded in the regiment. 

The casualties this day were as follows: 

Sergt. -Major Caleb X. Jacobs, shot in left arm and side. 

Co. B.— James D. Seward, killed. 

Co. F.— Corp. Charles B. Mead, killed; Henry E. Bar- 
num, mortally wounded; John Quinlan, wounded. 

Sergeant-Major Jacobs was mortally wounded on the 
front lines while taking observations. I sent him back in 
charge of T. A. Kirkham and another man, with a note to 
the provost-guard, to let Kirkham pass with Jacobs to the 
surgeon, but they wouldn't allow it, and ordered Kirkham 
back to his company. During the night Jacobs died, but 
had lived long enough to send a message to his mother and 
sister as follows: 

"Tell them I enlisted to save my country, and if need be T 
to die for my country. Tell them I never regretted that I 
enlisted. I am glad I have served my country, and do not 
regret to die for it." 

Such were the last and noble words of one of the best 
and bravest men we had in the service, and who was in all 
respects a true patriot and a splendid soldier, who had 
worked up gradually from the ranks to the head of the non- 
commissioned staff. 

On the death of Jacobs, Sergt. Charles J. Buchanan, of 
Company D, was promoted sergeant-major, and on August 
12th was commissioned first lieutenant, he having the high- 
est testimonials, and, as before indicated, had always been 
ready for duty when called, was never sick or wounded, and 
had never missed an action of his company. Here was an 
illustration of what bo^-s would amount to, as soldiers; fqr 
"Buck," as he was familiarly known and generall}' called in 
the regiment, was one of the youngest members, having 

■L^e-ds^ *Z^. ^-^& t£ e^s 


enlisted at the tender age of 17. Without ever knowing 
what hardship was at home, for he had been a law student, 
he readily broke in to a soldier's life, becoming one of the 
best marchers, enduring his share of all the hard trials the 
soldiers were subjected to. They went in "boys," but they 
soon became men — and men of endurance. And yet, there 
were not so many boys enlisted, particularly in '61-'62, as 
some might think. At least, this was the case in Companies 
D and G; for out of a total in Company D of 64 members, 
only 16 enlisted under age, 38 were over 21, 8 over 30, and 
2 over 4-0, making an average of 24 1 / 4 years. In Company 
G, out of a total of 152 enrolled, only 22 enlisted under age, 
nearly one-half of whom were over 20. While, counting by 
decades, there were 100 over 21, 25 over 30, and 5 above 
40. There were 60 between 24 and 30, and but 40 from 21 
to 23; the average age being 26 years, which I believe 
would hold good in the two regiments. 

So, the "boys" were pretty good boys after all, worthy 
defenders of their country, and "Buck" was one of them. 
After the war he was offered by Gen. Hancock a commission 
in the regular army, but respectfully declined, preferring to 
practice law, which he has since done to date. 

Without any wish to disparage in any manner the good 
qualities of other companies in either regiment, or to appear 
invidious by comparison, the writer is constrained to 
remark in this connection — principally on account of the 
fact that Company D was the smallest company numeric- 
ally, attaining hardly the minimum requirement, and 
because of more being said individually or otherwise of 
other companies — that this company enjoyed the reputation 
of having a superior lot of men. Though few in numbers 
they were a host in themselves, who never failed to make 
good their calling and election to the Sharpshooter service. 
In every action in which they were engaged, they always 
did whatever was required of them cheerfully and acceptn 


bly, thus contributing materially to the success so nobly 
earned and so steadfastly maintained by the regiment. 

Company D never received any recruits, which was 
owing, as Capt. Buchanan has justly said, "largely, to 
that miserable policy which so generally obtained during 
most of the war, of raising new and inexperienced battalions 
instead of filling up the wasted ranks of veteran organiza- 
tions. It seemed to be of far more importance that the 
political favorites at home, though novices in w r ar, should 
be preferred over those who had won their positions and 
enviable records by bravery in the face of the enemy. 
The policy was wrong, as well as disastrous. Had the 
armies at the front been kept fully recruited, as they might 
easily have been," (had it been insisted on), "who shall say 
that our forces would not have been far more efficient every- 
where, and consequently, the war brought to an end far 
more quickly than it was." A policy, however, that has 
been carried on to a great extent since the war, in the mat- 
ter of political favors, wherein the poor soldier, who battled 
at the front, must stand aside for wealth and a false, 
un-American aristocracy. 


June 18-20, 1864. 

On the 18th, advancing from the line of works taken 
from the enemy the night previous, our Sharpshooters were 
posted in and around the premises of 0. P. Hare, a noted 
Virginia turfite, whose race-course and training grounds 
called "Newmarket" were soon despoiled of all semblance 
of their former glories by the tramping of armed men, the 
galloping of war-like steeds, and the wheeling of heavy bat- 


teries. Here our men remained until the night of the 21st, 
using their rifles faithfully, often within 60 yards of the 
enemy's rifle pits, at different points along the line. The 
charge near the Hare House by a Union brigade on the 18th, 
resulted in disaster, although the Sharpshooters at the 
house were busily engaged assisting them with their rifles. 
Casualties with us this day were: 

Wounded: Adjutant E. R. Blakeslee. 

Co. A.— Wounded: Lewis Koester. 

Co. B.— Killed: Daniel Yandebogert. 

Co. F.— Killed: Edward Lyman. 

Co. H.— Killed : William r' Hicks. 

Co. I.— Killed: Robert Sheldon. 

Co. K. — Killed: James Stephens. 

On the 19th Companies E and G occupied a position in 
and around the house, the brigade building a line of works 
across the garden. Hare's house was evidently left by the 
late occupants in a hurry, as a large amount of books and 
papers principally referring to sporting items, furniture of 
different kinds, carpets, etc., were found scattered about. 
The walls of the building were completely perforated with 
bullet holes, while larger ones were being daily made by 
round shot and shell. The windows of the carpeted base- 
ment opened on one side in full view of the rebel pits in 
front, and as the basement itself made a very comfortable 
rifle pit, with chairs of mahogany to sit on, a number of the 
riflemen took possession of the same for the da}'. Among 
them was Emery Munsell, who was seated in an arm-chair 
with his 28-pounder, making long-range shots, several of 
which were thrown at random towards Petersburg, in hopes 
of attracting the notice of the editor of the Express while 
seated in his evidently uneasy chair, where he could have 
found a truthful item about the Sharpshooters, as an equiva- 
lent to the lying one he invented on the death of Durkee be- 
fore Yorktown; as the Union Sharpshooters were actually 


established in a "carpeted rifle pit" (but furnished by (lie 
enemy) with "comfortable arm-chairs to sit in," and "ma- 
hogany tables to eat off of; " although the wine cellar which 
was close at hand, contained naught but empty bottles. 

While the New Hampshire captain (Andrews), and Wis- 
consin lieutenant (Stevens), were seated at one of Hare's 
tables at half past six o'clock the morning of the 19th, eat- 
ing their simple breakfast of hard-tack and coffee, the rebel 
bullets whizzed through the windows over their heads into 
the opposite wall, showing conclusively that they had range 
of the place although they did no harm, yet succeeded in 
raising considerable dust inside as the broken plaster fell to 
the floor. The Sharpshooting party, however, silenced them 
in the course of the morning. 

The shooting between the rebel riflemen and the Sharp- 
shooters at this place, was carried on at times at extremely 
short-range, with much determination. As an Alabama 
rebel afterwards remarked: "It was only necessary to 
hold up your hand to receive a furlough." On one occasion,, 
he stated, his comrade did so, and receiving a ball through his 
arm, started, as he expressed it, "for hum," but soon after 
leaving the pit he received another shot in the rear, where- 
upon he wheeled about exclaiming with an oath: "I didn't 
ask for an extension." 

The rifle pits were generally approached before daylight, 
and for hours in the hot sun would the rifleman lie watch- 
ing his antagonist in his front, frequently exchanging shots. 
After dark they would fall back behind the breastworks for 
the night. At times an agreement would be entered into 
between the parties to cease firing, while one of the occu- 
pants of the pit on either side, would start a small fire and 
make coffee. Such agreement would be in about the man- 
ner following: 

"Well, Yank! Ain't it pretty near breakfast time? 
We'uns are getting hungry." 


" All right, Johnny ! Down with your shooting irons. " 

Sufficient time having elapsed to obtain the meal, firing 
would be resumed, giving notice, thus: 

"Hurrah there, Johnny! Time's up! " 

"All right, Yank ! pitch in ! " 

And the sharp crack of their rifles would resound as a 
reminder that business had commenced again. 


On one of these occasions a rebel soldier was rather slow 
about responding to the call of time. He was in plain view 
of a Sharpshooter, who saw him seated b\ r a little fire a few 
feet from the pit, slowly blowing his coffee, and munching 
his corn cake. 

"I say, you fellow! Get up from the table. You'll eat 
too much," cried the Sharpshooter. 

"Yes! I'm at my post," responded the lying rebel, 
unaware of his being seen. 

"Don't lie, you tar-heels!" accompanied by a shot, 
was the rejoinder, as the bullet went spinning into the fire 
throwing the ashes into the coffee, and causing Johnny to 
jump into his hole quickly, creating laughter on both sides. 
But a great struggle and commotion was noticed in the pit 
where soon all was still, when a loud mouthed Johnny 
rising full length yelled above all the rifles : 

"Byjove! You've killed him ! " 

" How's that ! " asked our men. 

"He's choked to death on the corn bread." 

The "telescopic" men were supposed to perform the fine 
w r ork of the regiment, such as making close shots at long- 
range, using their telescopes to make objects dim to the 
naked eye, perfectly plain and distinct, and some exciting 
specimens of marksmanship was the result. While engaged 
around Hare House, an incident occurred showing how even 
an old soldier will sometimes become demoralized. James 



Ragin had settled into his position and having obtained 
range at 300 yards, was closely watching his opponent, who 
was covered by a tree, and had gradually reduced his shots 
to about once in a half-hour. Ragin's rifle firmly resting on 
top of the pit, was sighted for the spot where the rebel 
showed himself when disposed to try a shot. 
A movement was discovered, the gravback 
stepped a little to one side of his tree, 
bringing down his piece preparatory to 
sending in another round. Now was the 
time, and Ragin pulled. In an instant his 
opponent jumped back quickly, flinging his 
gun from him to the ground. As he shortly 
after, however, stepped out and picked it 
up, hurriedly firing a return shot, the 
Sharpshooter concluded that it was at 
least a "close call," and that the fellow 
was badly scared, if not hurt. It was 
Jim's opinion, that: "That shot must have 
barked the fellow's clothes, if not actually 
skinned him," and he just roared at the 
performance. The following da}- Ragin got 
"barked." A rebel rifleman in a pit 400 
yards off, commenced shooting through a 
small opening to the great annoyance of 
the Union soldiers moving about in rear of 
the breastworks. Ragin getting range on 
the fellow, a few shots silenced him effect- 
ually, and for several hours after no shoot- 
ing was done from that quarter, when Ragin noticed that 
another man was sent into the pit to take the place of 
the one he had already "shut up." This fellow proved to 
be a tough customer, evidently a splendid marksman. 
The contest soon commenced, and for a long time the Wis- 
consin man exchanged shots with him, Ragin putting his 



balls into the opening almost every time, throwing the dirt 
down in the back of the pit, while his opponent dusted 
Jim frequently. The rebel evidently used a telescope, his 
bullets aways striking in about the same place on top of 
the Sharpshooter's pit. Finally, an almost simultaneous 
exchange took place, Ragin shooting through the opening, 
and receiving a clip through the hair close to the scalp, 
inflicting no injury. It was a close shave for the veteran, 
but he was used to such things, therefore failed to show 
the slightest emotion. His opponent never fired again, and 
quietness reigned supreme for the balance of the day in that 


There were many such episodes occurring almost daily 
during this siege, the shooting being done often at much 
greater distances than here given. And that the enemy 
entertained the greatest respect for the marksmanship of the 
" Yankee Sharpshooters," the following story is introduced 
as an illustration: 


" The narrowest escape I ever had," said a well-known 
lieutenant of police the other night, " was in front of Peters- 
burg. My regiment was in Pickett's division of Longstreet's. 
corps," he continued, "and another fellow and I were in a 
trench together. We were at the front of the line. The 
other fellow went by his first name, Dick. The trench was 
about six feet deep and there was a groove cut in the top of 
the front, through which we did our shooting at the 
Yankees. When we wanted to pop away we'd lay the gun- 
barrel along the groove, get quick sight on the enemy, pull 
the trigger and then jump down. Dick was a pig-headed 
sort of a chap. I had told him a dozen times he did n't have 
sense enough to hold his head on his shoulders. 

"There was a lot of Yankee sharpshooters, in front cf 
us, and I cautioned Dick to look out how he exposed him- 


self. I tell you it was dangerous for even so much as a 
man's ear to get in sight of those fellows. I heard the bullets 
whistling lively over our trench, and I knew by the sound 
that they were, 'forced balls.' A forced ball, you know, is a 
bullet from a breech-loader. It is a little bigger than the 
diameter of the gun-barrel, and consequently it goes out 
with greater force than the ball from a muzzle-loader. 
The w r ay we could distinguish between the two kinds of 
guns was that, if it was a breech-loader, the bullet got to 
you before the report, but if it was a muzzle-loader the 
report got to you before the ball. Most all of the Yanks 
used the breech-loaders, and you can just bet your boots w r e 
were mighty careful how w^e got in their way. 

"As I was saying, the bullets were whistling pretty lively 
over our trench. I was loaded and was about to put my 
gun in the groove and try to pick off a blue coat. Dick 
was standing in front of the groove putting in a charge. 
He had his eye at the breech of his gun examining it, and the 
side of his head was turned toward the groove. While he 
was standing there — it was not more than half a minute 
altogether— one of the 'forced' balls came singing through 
the groove and bored a hole clear through his head as big 
as a walnut. He fell dead. I stepped across to him, and in 
doing so passed in front of the groove. Just as I got on the 
other side of the trench another bullet passed through the 
groove and buried itself in the rear wall of the trench. Two 
other balls followed it and buried themselves in the identical 
hole made by the first bullet. The sharpshooter who did 
that neat job was a half mile away." 

"Pretty good shooting," suggested one of the listeners. 

"I should say so," said the lieutenant, with an express- 
ive shrug of the shoulders. "Some of those Yankee sharp- 
shooters were marvelous. They had little telescopes on 
their rifles that would fetch a man up close until he seemed 
to be onlv about 100 yards away from the muzzle. I've 


seen them pick a man off who was a mile away. They could 
hit so far you couldn't hear the report of the gun. You 
wouldn't have any idea anybody was in sight of you, and 
all of a sudden, with every thing as silent as the grave and 
not a sound of a gun, here would come skipping along one of 
those 'forced' balls and cut a hole clear through you. 

"How we used to lay for these sharpshooters, though," 
he said, chuckling at the remembrance. "We'd keep a 
look-out for every little puff of smoke. The sharpshooters, 
you know, mostly climbed trees and hid themselves in the 
branches. So every time they'd shoot there'd be a tell-tale 
puff of smoke come out of the tree. Just as soon as we'd 
see one of those little puffs of smoke the entire battery 
would rain shot and shell into that tree, and we'd make it 
so hot for the sharpshooter that he'd either tumble or crawl 
out, dead or alive. The best shooters were in the Union 
army. Most of them came from the west, and many of 
them had been scouts in the Indian country. They rarely 
missed a man at a distance of a mile. Indeed, they could 
hit any object as big as a pie-plate that far away." — Balti- 
more Herald, (Nov. 3, 1886). 

The lieutenant made at least one slight mistake in say- 
ing that most of our Sharpshooters came from the west. 

On the night of the 20th being relieved by Burnside's 
men, the Sharpshooters with their division changed position 
after dark, moving off to the left the following day towards 
the Weldon railroad, halting for the night in the rough 
woods near the picket lines. The section we had marched 
through was covered with deep woods, tangled brush, 
creeks and swamps, making the movement tedious and 
unsatisfactory. The position taken up was several miles 
south of Petersburg, with the intention of cutting the 
Weldon Road and wresting its possession from the 
intrenched enemy; for which purpose were brought together 
the combined forces of the 2d and 6th corps. 



June 21-22, 18G4. 

Col. Stoughton who had been absent on account of 
wounds received at Po river, had joined his regiment and 
assumed command the morning of June 21st ; and in the 
flank movement to cut the Weldon railroad begun that day 
by Hancock's corps, the Second Sharpshooters became 
engaged. Col. Stoughton says: "The Second Regiment 
was put to the front to encounter the described squadron 
of Fitz Hugh Lee's cavalry. Col. McDougal who com- 
manded the brigade, and to whom I reported, sent our 
regiment in and we soon found ourselves largely outnum- 
bered and reported to Col. McDougal, when he replied : "Go 
on, there is nothing in your front." So I pushed on. Presently 
report came from Companies A and B both, that their line 
was being overlapped, and in danger of being captured. I 
directed them to break to the rear their respective flanks, 
and the firing was beginning to be sharp. I heard what I 
supposed was support coming on my left and rear, and in 
attempting to adjust and join the line, fell into the hands of 
the 2d X. C. cavalry, dismounted. At the same time the 
colonel and orderly of the 2d N. C. cavalry were both cap- 
tured by Lieut. Shoup and some of the men. Five of our 
regiment were captured besides nryself,"— among them, Capt. 
Samuel F. Murray. Col. Stoughton did not return to the 
regiment, being mustered out seven months thereafter, soon 
after the end of his imprisonment and parole. 

Sharp firing had occurred in front during the night of 
the 21st, which was continued in the morning (22d). The 
6th corps, following the 2d, not getting up in time, a con- 


siderable gap intervening on the left of Barlow's division 
and the right of the 6th, in the afternoon Barlow's lines 
were severely attacked and successfully flanked, the enemy 
having good roads to come in on, thus facilitating quick 
movements. The result was, we were driven in, the troops 
doubled up, falling back in confusion, the line of works taken 
by the foe with* four pieces of artillery, with the other 
divisions of the 2d corps forced back from their positions. 
The corps rallying, retook its original line, driving the Con- 
federates off. But the mischief had been done in the first 
attack, and our corps lost heavily, particularly in captured 
men, held by the enemy. 

Three companies of the First Sharpshooters, A, F and I r 
in advance on the extreme left, were obliged to leave with 
considerable loss, on finding the rebels swinging around in 
their rear. A special detail of 10 men had been sent out in 
charge of Sergt. Eli Cook with orders direct from the gen- 
eral in command of the line to "move your men through 
that piece of w-oods and you will be in range of a rebel bat- 
tery that is sending shell through our ranks causing much 
annoyance to me." Pushing carefully through the timber 
Cook's command found four belching cannon 4-00 yards dis- 
tant. Getting right down to business the Sharpshooters 
soon had the big guns quiet — not a living man could stand 
and load them for a full half-hour. So intent were these 
riflemen to perform the part in the battle assigned them, 
that the enemy had swung clear around behind unnoticed, 
within 15 yards, before our boys knew of their danger. 
They w r ere completely cut off, but determined not to surren- 
der without a struggle, they dashed into the scattered rebel 
line and six out of the eleven breaking through, returned to 
the regiment. Company F also suffered greatly. Owing to 
the losses sustained since the commencement of the Wilder- 
ness campaign, this gallant company had been reduced 


from 47 members to 10 left for duty, 35 having been killed or 
wounded and two uninjured taken prisoners. 

While this was going on, the other companies were in 
reserve, but under rapid and close shelling. Immediately 
behind them on their horses, the Sharpshooters lying on the 
ground, were several generals with their staff, and it was 
noticeable that every time a shell came over, most of the 
aids dodged and ducked as if they were unused to them, 
while the generals sat perfectly unmoved, except Gen. Grif- 
fin, who was constantly turning his head and watching 
where the shell exploded. About sunset these companies 
were sent forward in skirmish line over a large opening or 
field to within 100 yards of a thick wood where the enemy 
were posted, who suddenly opened on them sharpty. Our 
men taking cover in a ditch, from that point briskly 
responded to the rattling musketry, pouring in thick and 
fast their bullets closely about them. The left of our line 
had swung around almost into the timber when the enemy 
opened, causing them to fall back to the ditch where the 
right and center had stopped. The fighting was kept up on 
both sides with much spirit, the Sharpshooters holding their 
ground until a brigade came up on a charge. As these 
troops rushed down the sloping field we had a good chance 
looking back, to see a line of infantry coming at full charge, 
with their bayonets before them. The interest, however, 
was soon lost from the startling fact, that some of them 
were sufficiently excited to cause their pieces to discharge in 
a rather careless manner. At least, the Sharpshooters in 
front of them had good cause to think so, as the muskets 
being pointed high and low, their flashing shots came whiz- 
zing close over our heads and in the ground behind and at 
our side; so that our men watching their every movement, 
their reckless firing, yelled above the noise to "stop that 
firing, you infernal fools." However, the}- were soon over 
ns, and gradually forcing the hidden enemy back from the 


edge of the thicket, established an advanced line. The action 
ceased soon after dark, when the Sharpshooters engaged, 
assembled in the rear with their regiment. Although the 
enemy's fire was rapid and at short range, yet but few were 
hit in the brigade and none in the Sharpshooters. On the 
following day we moved to the rear of the breastworks, 
being used by detail for special sharpshooting purposes. 


Co. A. — Captured: John Fehr, Frederic Teller. 

Co. D. — Wounded : Capt. John E. Hetherington, in 
hand, severe. 

Co. F. — Killed: Barney Leddy, Peter Lafflin. Wounded: 
Sergt. L. D. Grover, David Clark, Walter P. Morgan, cap- 
tured, and died of wound. 

Co. I.— Missing: R. D. Mills and P. Luttes. 

Capt. John E. Hetherington was born Jan. 7, 1840, in 
Cherry Valley, N. Y., and was one of the original members 
of Company D, 1st U. S. S. S. Rising rapidly from the ranks 
he succeeded to the command of his company at the battle of 
Gettysburg. It was from no boyish freak that he enlisted, 
but from a deliberate sense of duty, that he left the most ex- 
tensive bee business in the United States. His service as a 
Union soldier comprised all the principal actions of the Army 
of the Potomac up to the time of receiving this his last 
wound, before Petersburg; and he had been especially men- 
tioned to the Secretary of War for "bravery and merito- 
rious conduct" in the front ranks before the enemy. For two 
years after his discharge it was a question whether he would 
live, but he gradually regained a large part of his former 
vigor. As a resident of Cherry Valley, N. Y., he was one of 
the organizers of the New r York Bee-Keepers Association, 
said to be the oldest of the kind in the country, and of which 
he was at one period its president. His lectures on Bee- 
Keeping before farmers' clubs in central New York, made 


him very popular, and had much to do with their success in 
raising bees, Capt. Hetherington being high authority on 
everything pertaining to bee culture, and he is credited with 
being (in 1892) the most extensive bee keeper in the world. 
He stands high in the Presbyterian church, of which he and 
his family are members. His religion is of a practical, work- 
ing kind, that bears immediate fruit ; that raises the fallen, 

feeds the hungry, cares for the sick. At the same time he 
believes there is a divine side to religion, with duties beyond 
those to our fellow men. He is an active Good Templar and 


Captain Hetherington's sword was shattered by a bul- 
let, and a piece of the weapon driven through his hand. The 

engraving shows this piece lying by the broken sword, while 
the portrait shows the position of the sword and hand. He 
had thrown his rubber blanket across the hilt of his sword, 
and that over his shoulder. Providentially the bullet, so 
well directed, found a lodgment in his sword and hand, 
instead of his heart, which laj^ just beneath. A distinguished 
general of the English army on seeing this sword, said he 
had seen many of the heir-looms of prominent British fami- 
lies, and the relics sent home from 20 years of active service, 
and added: "Among them all there are none that I consider 
as fine a personal relic as this broken sword." Capt. Heth- 
erington had thrown it away as being of no further use to 
him ; but it was preserved by his men. He commanded the 
regiment one day in the field, before he was wounded, by 
request of Capt. Wilson, who was unwell. In personal 
appearance the captain is tall and commanding, and looks 
like the accomplished soldier he was so well known to be. 

An order was promulgated to us shortly after this fight, 
by the peerless Hancock, which I understand was not pub- 
lished in the newspapers at the time, relative to the 2d corps 
having acted so badly in the first part of the engagement, 
which I insert, as it may not be entirely uninteresting to the 
survivors of the two regiments who remember Hancock as 
he then was, every inch a soldier, or to that other class who 
disdain not, but rather love to read rebellion history. It 
should not be forgotten, however, that the 2d corps at that 
time, was not the 2d corps of old; as a large proportion of 


the veterans had been lost to service by death and deserved 
discharge, so that without the accession of latter-day 
recruits who had never been under fire, and many of whom 
were reputed worthless characters at home, however they 
may have, and I believe did vindicate themselves afterwards, 
thf 2d corps could hardly have existed— for want of num- 
bers. The order read as follows : 

Headquarters Second Army Corps. 
Near Petersburg, Ya., June 27, 1864. 
General Orders) 
No. 22. / 

Major-General Hancock resumes command of the 2d 
corps. In so doing he desires to express his regret that dur- 
ing his absence from the command it suffered a disaster from 
the hands of the enemy, which, under the circumstances, 
seriously tarnished its fame. The abandonment of the line 
by brigades and regiments without orders and without fir- 
ing a shot, and the surrender to the enemy of entire regi- 
ments by their commanders without resistance, was dis- 
graceful and admits of no defense. It should be recollecte.l 
that those officers who surrender their commands on the 
plea of saving the lives of their men, but, in reality to save 
their own, will be held in contempt by the very men they 
surrender. A little firmness in defending themselves would 
have given time to have brought up troops to their assist- 
ance and would have enabled us to gain a success. The 
guilty will not be allowed to go unpunished, and those offi- 
cers who surrendered their commands to the enemy without 
fighting will be brought to trial when opportunity offers. 

The reputation of the Corps has been deservedly so high 
in the army, and throughout the country, that it was not 
deemed possible that such a disaster could occur to it. 

It is necessary that the stigma cast upon it should be 
removed, and it can be done if the brave officers and soldiers 
of this command will only do as well as they have 
habitually done since this eventful campaign commenced. 
The war is one of endurance. Our numbers are greater 
than those of the enemy, and it is only required that each 
one should do his duty in this crisis, when so much is at 


stake for the future of each individual, to insure success. 
It is necessary to be patient and watchful. Each officer and 
soldier should feel that the fate of the army depends upon 
his personal vigilance. Hereafter those skulkers who aban- 
don the field on the plea of carrying off the wounded, which, 
in action, none but the Ambulance Corps are allowed to do, 
and those who run away while their comrades are fighting, 
will be shot down by the Provost Guard, who are required 
to execute this order. 

By command of Maj. Gen'l Hancock. 

Francis A. Walker, Asst. Adjt. Gen'l. 

On the 24th, the Second Sharpshooters being out on the 
front line, at an early hour in the morning heavy cannon- 
ading was heard on the right, and soon after in front in the 
vicinity of the "Chimne\*s" on the Jerusalem plank road. Two 
companies of Sharpshooters from the First Regiment having 
been sent for to operate against the rebel artillerists, who 
were engaged firing into Union regiments that were moving 
about, Companies G and H, under Lieut. Stevens, were 
ordered to go, and under instructions from Capt. Wilson, 
regimental commander, approached carefully the position 
designated, keeping under cover of the woods out of sight 
of the enemy's pickets, as some of our troops advancing 
over the open plain to the front lines were subjected to this 
firing, with considerable loss. Reaching the outer lines close 
up to the enemy, position was obtained under fire in rifle 
pits and behind deserted works, with a portion of the 
detachment in reserve. The rebel battery remained silent 
for the balance of the day, kept quiet by our men, but 
occasional exchanges took place from the rifle pits, the 
Sharpshooters having obtained proper range soon after 
taking their posts, whereby they could send in their shots to 
the rebel pits when occasion required. The position on the 
left of the line having been occupied afterwards by other 
troops, those of the Sharpshooters placed there were recalled 
and sent to the reserve near by. One of our men, Corp. 


Andrew Kirkham, of Company G, failing to hear the order, 
remained at his post all day until found in the evening and 
brought back ; he having performed good service in silenc- 
ing the enemy's pits in his front, to the great satisfaction of 
our infantry moving about in his rear. In the evening the 
command received orders to withdraw and rejoin the 

During the morning Ragin had been posted by Capt. 
Wilson, at the special request of an artillery officer, at his 
battery a half-mile in rear of the advanced line taken up by 
the Sharpshooter detachment. This battery had been 
subjected to considerable artillery fire from the enemy, and 
it was the wish of theofficer in command to witness Ragin's 
skill in long-range shooting. After firing a few shots, 
however, the enemy responded with shell and bullets, which 
did not suit the artille^man, who thereupon in a profane 
and excited manner ordered Ragin away, when the latter 
instantly followed up and rejoined his company, anything 
but pleased at the manner in which he had been treated 
after complying with the officer's request to "give 'em a few 
shots." The Sharpshooter was hit twice in this affair, 
shoulder and breast, slightly, by spent ball and piece of 
shell. Notwithstanding he felt hurt at the summary man- 
ner in which he had been ordered off, Ragin could not refrain 
from laughing at the "scared officer with his red face." 

From this time until July 26th, the men were employed 
in picket and fatigue duties at different points to which they 
were from time to time, with their division, moved. The 
firing in the meantime along the lines, had been keptupwith 
little intermission night and day, between the opposing 
pickets, while the artillery was also kept busy, especially 
when bodies of troops moved about, readily discovered by 
the clouds of dust, the weather being dry as well as 
extremely warm. At the date mentioned, participating in 
the movement of the 2d corps, they broke camp in the 


evening, marching rapidly and silently by the City Point 
road, crossing the Appomattox on pontoons at Point of 
Rocks near Bermuda Hundred, and pressing steadily for- 
ward, after a fatiguing march of 18 miles crossed the James 
river also by pontoon bridge, at Jones' Landing near Curl's 
Neck, at three o'clock the following morning. On this 
tramp they passed for a long distance through a dense 
green forest of heavy pines, the darkness being so intense 
that torches were purposely lit and posted along the route, 
therebv presenting an illuminated scene both grand and 
impressive, the whole column forming an extensive as well 
as novel torch-light procession. The pinus covering on the 
ground though soft and easy to the now noiseless feet, was 
at times so slippery as to make it difficult to keep in the 
ranks, so that unexpected thumps on the head from rifle 
barrels were not infrequent. After a short rest after their 
forced march, the men were astir at an early hour of the 
27th, and the greatly scattered troops collected in their 
proper places, many having fallen out on the latter part of 
the march. — 


Ju^y 27-28, 1864. 

It was early the morning of July 27th when the artillery 
opened, Brown's and Sleeper's batteries, which was soon 
followed bv skirmishing across Strawberry Plains where the 
enemy had taken position. After some sharp fighting, 
Barlow's division in the lead, the rebels were driven back 
with the loss of four 20-pound Parrott guns, recaptured 
Union guns which they had been using against us, an 
important work and a number of prisoners; during which 
time the Sharpshooters were held in reserve under the tire of 


the enemy's guns. In the afternoon they moved across the 
plains to a deep wood, where they were employed as Sharp- 
shooters and skirmishers on the right, guarding that flank. 
Here they were held in position until night-fall when, the 
firing having ceased, they were assembled and remained 
under arms in the woods over night. On the next day the 
gun-boat Mendotawas busily engaged throwing 100-pound 
shell into the enemy's position with great apparent effect, 
while the troops were fortifying. In the meantime, a large 
force of cavalry under Sheridan, were reconnoitering on the 
right. In the evening the Sharpshooters, with their division 
now commanded by Gen. Mott, were quietly withdrawn, 
and recrossing the James, returned by another forced march 
over the Appomattox, halting at four a. m. of the 29th 
beyond the City Point railroad, in rear of the right of the 
line before Petersburg, having marched a distance of 14 

The movement at Deep Bottom was a diversion by Gen. 
Grant, to induce Lee to withdraw a large portion of his 
Petersburg army to reinforce his reduced force north of the 
James, to prevent their being cut off, at the same time secure 
Richmond, 10 miles distant, which was threatened. Han- 
cock's corps and a portion of Butler's troops co-operated 
in the design, while a large force of cavalry were to destroy 
railway communications north of Richmond, and otherwise 
harass the enemy in that vicinit\ r . Besides, there was a 
mine to be exploded in Burnside's front before Petersburg, 
therefore to make the succeeding attack more successful, a 
reduction of the enemy's force in front was a great desidera- 
tum. But the Deep Bottom affair was not the success hoped 
for, as Lee could move quicker by rail than the Union troops 
could afoot. At least, the success was not apparent to 
ordinary soldiers' minds, however satisfied Grant may have 
been with the result. 


Resting where they had halted during the day, hid from 
the view of" the enemy behind some sandy hillocks, where 
they were treated to a visit by Gen. Grant in person, with 
whom the Sharpshooters had an inspiring chat, after dark 
they approached cautiously to the right of Hare's house, and 
relieving the 19th Wisconsin of the 18th corps, occupied 
their works. Three companies, B, G, and K, under command 
of Lieut. Stevens as picket officer, were immediately placed 
in the rifle pits in front, where the}' remained within a short 
distance of the eneni3 r 's line until half-past three in the morn- 
ing, when they were quietly withdrawn behind the breast- 
works through intricate winding paths in the heavy brush 
and fallen trees in front of the same; no firing taking place 
except the enemy's mortar shells, which could be plainly 
seen, like a fiery comet, in the darkness, as they rose high in 
air from Fort Clifton on the opposite bank of the Appomat- 
tox, situated on high ground in a position commanding the 
works now occupied by the Sharpshooters and their bri- 

It was a night of great excitement, impressed as were 
our troops with the certainty of another terrible conflict. 
The very death-like stillness that was insisted on and which 
prevailed, presaged too plainly to the veteran soldier's mind 
something awful to occur. It was death in all its horrors 
pertaining to the battle-field, to many, and who of them 
watching that fearful night would count among the slain, 
was a matter of the gravest conjecture. But tired nature's 
balm, sleep, came to them finally, and with the exception of 
the watchful sentinels on the front lines, the great army lay 
in hopeful repose. 




July 30, 186-1. 

The advanced position held by Burnside's corps was 
within 150 yards of the enemy's fort, called Elliott's Salient, 
located in front of Cemetery Hill, a crest of ground com- 
manding Petersburg, which Gen. Grant wished to secure. 
The occupation of this ridge by the Union batteries would 
have placed Petersburg at his mercy. Behind Burnside's 
line was a hollow formation out of sight ofthe Confederates, 
Here it was that the mining commenced, the purpose being 
to dig a tunnel under the level ground intervening to the 
center of the rebel fort. A Pennsylvania regiment (48th) 
contained a number of miners, from whom came the sug- 
gestion that a mine could be successfully laid under the fort. 
The matter was talked over by the men, until Col. Pleasants, 
their regimental commander, became interested, also the 
division general, Potter; finally Burnside took it up, and 
after laying the matter before his engineers concluded to 
give it a trial; Gen. Meade consenting with little hope, how- 
ever, that it would succeed. It was commenced June 25th, 
and after much difficulty in removing the earth, carrying it 
away in cracker boxes for want ofsomethingbetter,through 
the persistent efforts ofthe tired and worn out miners the 
work was completed July 23d. The tunnel was over 500 
feet in length, the mine being planted directly under the 
fort. This was charged with 8,000 pounds of powder, to be 
exploded July 30th before daybreak, with an assault by 


Burnside's troops in advance, followed by the other corps— 
in all, a force of not less than 50,000 men. 

It was Gen. Burnside's wish to have Gen. Ferrero'sL 
colored division take the lead, they having been trained for 
weeks previous for this especial service, while the white 
soldiers had in the meantime been arduously engaged on the 
front lines, incurring considerable loss. In fact, during the 
whole time of the mining operations, an incessant firing was 
kept upon Burnside's front. But Gen. Meade was opposed to 
having the colored troops go first, so was Grant, principally 
because of the charge that would afterwards be made in 
case of failure in the enterprise, that they were sent ahead 
to be sacrificed. Of course a great howl would have gone 
up throughout the north that this was the case — that the 
negroes were sent into a death trap to save our white 
troops. The choice was then left to the three white divisions 
of the 9th corps, to be selected by lot, and it fell upon 
Ledlie's to take the lead. 

"We had but one division of colored troops in the 
whole army about Petersburg at that time, and I do not 
think it would have been proper to put them in front for 
nothing but success would have justified it."— Grant. 

The mine not exploding at the time expected, it was 
feared by the officers in the rear, at headquarters, Grant, 
Meade and others, that it was a failure. Over an hour 
passed by, 

And still no earthy sound 
To quake .the morning air. 

The connecting fuse had been lit, but was finally discovered 
by a member of the mining regiment, Sergt. Reese, who. 
coolly volunteered to go in, to have gone out within a short 
distance of the magazine. Relighting it, he hurried out 
just as the explosion came, sending Elliott's fort high in the 
air, leaving a great pit or crater burning in its place. This 


hole measured 150x60 feet, and 30 feet deep. It was the 
death trap. The mine exploded at twenty minutes to five 
a. M. with a dull, rumbling sound, shaking everything ani- 
mate or inanimate far around. Soldiers fell down, others 
lying prone were shaken upward to fall again, as if perfectly 
lifeless. Thus were they shocked by this frightful concussion. 
The stunning effect over, the Union artillery planted along 
the line, at once opened on Cemetery Hill and beyond, so 
that between the explosion and the terrific cannonading, 
the rebels became terror stricken and, those that could, fled 
wildly to the rear. It is known that 400 of them, South 
Carolinians, were lost in the demolished fort, with several 
cannon. Then Ledlie's men ran forward, the best they 
could, considering that they had to climb their own works — 
there being no opening — filing down through the thick 
abatis in front, crooked trees and sharp sticks, by winding 
ways, to the plain. The result was it took too much time 
to get the troops over, then instead of going forward 
in line of battle, they rushed on by the flank, string- 
ing along, without formation, headlong into the 
crater. The white soldiers knew little or nothing 
about this movement, until they were ordered to 
go forward after the explosion, and without a clear 
understanding of what was expected of them, ran 
ahead, and undoubtedly did the best they could. Some of 
the troops passing the crater, gained the crest; among them 
a portion of the colored division following, by whom a few 
hundred prisoners were taken. But they were so discon- 
nected, so unsupported, that they were obliged to fall back, 
and into the crater they went. So much time was lost in 
getting the troops forward, that the enemy rallied, coming 
forward in great numbers, and in good order, aided by their 
artillery trained to play on the opening between the crater 
and our works behind, whereby they soon swept the ground 
of all living persons, so that the opportunity was lost and 


the movement resulted in a lamentable and disastrous 
failure. Upwards of 4-,000 Union soldiers were lost in the 
assault, killed wounded and captured. The men in the 
crater were so completely hemmed in they could not escape, 
preferring rather to remain than to take the chances of a 
retreat through the fire of the rebel batteries. For a time, 
a hand-to-hand fight occurred at the crater, the enemy rush- 
ing down, firing rapidly into the bloody chasm, while the 
shells from mortars and cannon exploded among our 
doomed men. Twice indeed the rebels were repulsed in their 
assaults, but it did no other good than to keep them off 
for the time being. Everywhere was confusion, on all sides 
death and destruction. Finally, orders were given to recall 
the troops, to stop the now useless slaughter. To get back 
was the difficulty now, many refusing to attempt it, while 
of those who did, numbers were shot down in their tracks. 
The cannonading during this time, for it lasted from about 
five until noon, was of the most deafening and continuous 
character. It was like the roll of musketry increased in 
sound. With the exception of Burnside's troops, but one 
division, from the 18th corps, went into the fight, who 
made a gallant struggle to retrieve the fortunes of the day. 
The same may be said of Potter's and Willcox's divisions 
of the 9th corps. The other corps were waiting for orders 
that never came — they simply took the enemy's shell that 
came over, and watched the result. 

The Second Sharpshooters were deployed in front of the 
enemy's batteries on the right, keeping them silent, and were 
complimented b\' their brigade general therefor. 

The First Sharpshooters were in the meantime under 
severe fire from the rebel batteries planted at Fort Clifton, 
which had range of their works, sending long Whitworths 
amongst them, causing sometimes a resort to the bomb- 
proofs, while bullets from the front kept the too inquisitive 


down, we having no orders to fire back, in fact, the con- 
trary—we were to keep quiet, and we did. We had orders, 
however, to be ready to move across the front at any 
moment. This was countermanded in the afternoon, with 
notice that further operations for the day would be 
suspended, when the firing gradually ceased on both sides. 
The Sharpshooters, notwithstanding, met with some loss 
in wounded, among them James Ragin of Wisconsin, shot in 
the left arm. The 34-pound telescope-rifle I then turned 
over to Frederick H. Johnson, of Company B, another very 
deserving soldier. Fred was one of the youngest members 
of Capt. Wilson's company, enlisting from New York city. 
He w T as always with his company, did effective service at 
Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and was one of its 
"reliables," therefor the compliment of the regimental com- 
mander having turned over to him one of the telescope 
guns, which he invariably used with good effect. 

During the night they left this position, having been 
relieved, proceeding to the rear of the front lines, where 
with their division they were held in reserve. On the 
evening of August 5th they moved suddenly after dark 
without packing up, but after going three-fourths of a mile 
returned, excitement abating, which was caused by a Con- 
federate failure in springing a mine,— they having gone into 
the mining business, — their engineers being several yards 
too short in their estimate. In fact, their wily generals had 
a grave suspicion when Burnside's mine was under way, 
of something of the kind being attempted, and had com- 
menced one of their own, running a few yards outside the 
course of the Union tunnel. 

August 12th they again broke camp as part of Han- 
cock's corps marching to City Point, on the James river, 
seven miles distant. The dust was heavy, which with the 
extreme heat of the day, had a weakening effect on the men, 
manv of the soldiers falling out of the ranks, with cases of 

IN Tin: akmv OP i hi; POTOMAC. 481 

sunstroke reported. Arrived near the City Point landing 
during the evening, after much halting on the way, where 
they remained over night until the afternoon of the 13th. 
Considerable speculation occurred amongst the officers and 
men as to where we were going when the steamboats swung 
around to load on the troops, especially when we steamed 
down the river. All manner of places were suggested, prin- 
cipally north. But as we didn't go man}- miles before com- 
ing to a stop, mid-stream, it was getting to be looked upon 
as a ruse, to deceive any lurking enemy on the rebel shore. 
This was assured when about eight p. M. a tug came along 
side with orders to start up stream at ten o'clock for Deep 
Bottom. This was done, the troops being landed at day- 
light the next morning at the scene of our former movement 
the north side of the James. Grant's plan was to threaten 
Lee on his flanks, either in front of Richmond or south of 
Petersburg, to prevent his sending reinforcements to Gen. 
Early in the Shenandoah — soon to be whipped out by Sheri- 
dan, sent there to command the Union troops. The troops 
sent across the James-to menace Lee's left, consisted of the 
2d corps, 10th corps and Gregg's cavalry division. » 

Not long after the landing was effected, a portion of our 
troops engaged the enemy in front beyond Strawberry 
Plains. Our brigade moved forward to the farther side of 
the plains remaining there during the day and over night; 
the artillery and musketry plainly to be heard in the battle 
then raging, in which a part of the 10th corps captured a 
number of prisoners, several cannon and mortars. 




August 15-16, 1864. 

The morning of August 15th, the brigade being ordered 
to report to Gen. Birney now commanding the 10th corps, 
moved forward to the extreme right, and in the afternoon 
went into action in the neighborhood of Deep Run or Four- 
Mile Creek, the First Sharpshooters advancing ahead as 
skirmishers through small but thick pines, pushing the 
enemy back over a mile, following them up closely, eventually 
obtaining a position on the Charles City road. A line of 
cavalry skirmishers were on the right, also a regiment of 
infantry on the left of the Sharpshooter line. On reaching 
the road, the right of our line were suddenly confronted with 
a rebel line of infantry who fired a volley into Company A 
and the dismounted cavalry, inflicting considerable loss, 
particularly in the cavalry ; while in Company A Capt. 
Aschmann fell wounded, but the enemy were soon driven 
off. It was a hot afternoon, and the firing being rapid on 
both sides, as we advanced the Sharpshooters lost a number 
of good men, mostly in w r ounded. Owing to the close 
growth of the young trees it was almost impossible to dis- 
tinguish the enemy in the Sharpshooters front, they lying 
close to the ground and after delivering their well-aimed 
fire, hustling back to farther favorable positions from 
which to sight on our men as the latter advanced steadily 
on them— a perilous adventure bravely accomplished. Dur- 
ing this sharp disadvantageous skirmish, to the Sharp- 
shooters, the regimental colors were gallantl} r pressed for- 


ward on to the concealed enemy, in charge of Corp. Andrew 
Kirk ham. 

On the 16th sharp fighting occurred the entire day. In 
the morning the Sharpshooters were sent out as flankers, 
passing through a huckleberry swamp where the boys made 
a faint attempt to enjoy themselves, into heavy timber; 
thence moving forward through heavy .slashing of pine trees 
and brush, difficult to climb through, they succeeded in cap- 
turing a line of works on the heels of the retreating foe, 
where they halted, having captured 25 of the Johnnies. This 
position the Sharpshooters held for a considerable time, 
during which sharp exchanges occurred with the enemy, 
posted behind another line of works beyond an open field in 
our front. Other troops finally came to them and after some 
severe fighting, becoming flanked by the enemy in force, they 
w r ere obliged to fall back from their exposed position, under 
a very hot fire, through the thick slashing; the Sharp- 
shooters reopening as they took their place again on the 
right flank. In this affair they met with more loss, among 
others, Capt. Andrews and Lieut. Tyler, both severely 
wounded, and a great loss to the regiment. A portion of 
the 10th corps, among them some negro troops, were behind 
the works to the left of the Sharpshooters, and they also 
fell back. Among the losses in the brigade which were 
reported heavy in this fight, was the commander of the same, 
Col. Craig, who was killed. Later in the afternoon we 
were ordered to report to Gen. Birney for further "special 
duty." Capt. Wilson soon had the regiment moving for- 
ward to the new position, and through the dense smoke of 
the artillery which settled close to the earth, obtained a 
position on the crest of a high hill in the woods near the Rur, 
where they were employed until dark sharpshooting, when 
they were withdrawn. Taking no farther part in the 
fighting still in progress, they left the field on the night of 
the 18th, and moved back over the James and Appomattox 


by pontoons, with their division. Gen. Birney gave the 
Sharpshooters great praise for "gallant and meritorious 
service" performed while under hiscommand. 


Co. A.— Wounded: Capt. Rudolph Asehmann, right 
leg amputated; also oneenlisted man injured, EmilHarmuth. 

Co. C— Wounded: Adjt. E. R. Blakeslee, slight; John 
M. Booth, captured. 

Co. E— Wounded: Capt. Wm. G. Andrews, arm, severe; 
First Sergt. Charles E. Spencer, Sergt. David C. Wyatt. 

Co. G.— Wounded: Private Levi Ingolsbe, mortal. 

Co. I.— Killed : Franklin Dolton. Wounded: ElishaR. 

Co. K.— Wounded: First Lieut. Richard W. Tyler, arm 
amputated; Edwin B. Parks, slight. 

The Second Regiment marched towards Richmond and 
flanked a four-gun battery which was taken on a charge in 
which they were engaged, capturing a lot of prisoners 
and ammunition. The regiment was kept busy during the 
entire movement. 

This was the last action in which the First Regiment of 
Sharpshooters took part, the term of service being about to 
expire with several of the companies, so that in a short 
time the regiment would be virtually disbanded as an 
organization. But there was yet considerable duty for them 
to perform, principally on the picket lines, before they were 
mustered out. 

Having got back before Petersburg again, on the morn- 
ing of the 19th they were posted on picket on the left of the 
Jerusalem Plank Road at "Fort Hell," near the Chimneys, 
which latter were now pretty much destroyed, where they 
remained until the 24-th, being at the time within 60 yards 
of the enemy. An agreement had been entered into between 
the opposing pickets at this place, that no firing should 


occur unless ordered, then notice should be given. As aeon- 
sequence of this arrangement the pickets could walk their 
beats unmolested, instead of being cooped up, or huddled 
together, in the rifle pits, often half-full of water from fre- 
quent heavy rains. Artillery firing, however, was kept up, 
with little intermission. Along these outer lines were bomb- 
proofs, which were used to protect the troops from the rebel 
fire, especially the mortar shells. Company F on the 21st, 
while out in the pits, got into a sharp fight, driving the 
Johnnies from their pits in front, capturing 40 of them; 
although there were but 10 of the company to do it. While 
at this point heavy fighting had been going on, to our left, 
in the vicinity of the Weldon railroad way south of Peters- 
burg, with success to the Union arms, principally of War- 
ren's corps, who although hard pressed in his almost 
isolated position, and at times severely flanked by the 
enraged Confederates whereby he lost quite heavily, bravely 
held his ground which remained thereafter in his possession; 
there being at the time but few troops in the rear of the 
Sharpshooters— a thin far-stretched line — and their division; 
the balance of the corps having gone under Hancock with a 
brigade of cavalry some miles south of the Weldon road 
fight, to Reams' Station, where on the 25th after repulsing the 
enemy, they were forced back with loss of their line of works 
and three batteries, one of which was recaptured. During 
the darkness Hancock withdrew from before the superior 
forces of the enemy. In this deplorable affair, out of 8,000 
men all told, Hancock lost over 2,400, of which nearly 1,800 
were "missing; " the most of whom were supposed to have 
been captured very easily, from the fact that bounty jump- 
ing recruits hardly relished hard fighting, therefore were 
incapable of stout resistance to the fierce onslaughts of the 

Leaving their picket line the Sharpshooters encamped in 
pine woods on the left of their previous position. A few days 


before, the First Sharpshooters as an organization com- 
menced breaking tip, when the Swiss compan3 r , "A," a mere 
squad left (a dozen only), were mustered out, August 18th, 
and departed for their homes. This was followed by the 
muster out of Company C, Aug. 20th; Lieut. Edwin A. 
Wilson, their last company commander — and a good one — 
says "the overwhelming number of five of the original 101 
who enlisted Aug. 21, 1861," were with him when the day 
for muster out finally came. On August 28th the muster out 
of Company B followed, another handful of battle-scarred 
men; Lieut. Theodore Wilson commanding, thefirst lieuten- 
ant Frank S. Wells having been on staff duty for a consider- 
able time previous, while the captain, John Wilson, had been 
regimental commander. 

On the afternoon of the 25th the regiment moved to the 
left again towards Reams Station, where the fighting above 
noticed had been going on, and obtained a position for the 
night on the flank, where they lay guarding the same until 
the following morning, when they returned to their former 
place at the pines. The firing in the meantime had been 
heavy, especially in cannonading. Shortly after, they were 
posted behind breastworks on the front line where they 
remained, often subject to severe fire, employed in daily 
picket duty, the picket lines of the opposing forces being 
from 60 to 150 yards apart. 


A series of scenes, with a comical commencement and 
a tragical ending, occurred at this encampment, wherein a 
mule was the chief actor. This mule had been confiscated 
bvthe officer keeping the same, sometime previous, or rather 
had strayed over to the officer's quarters, and being captured 
by his man Friday, was made to earn its hard-tack and 
such other provender as could be picked up, by carrying 
blankets, rations, etc., during the many sudden marches 


that were occurring in this vicinity. It was against orders 
to allow any pack-horse or mule to go beyond a certain 
point, and the provost guard was pretty sure to stop them. 
On a certain occasion (1st Deep Bottom), when it came to 
turning back this mule, our man leading pointing toacouple 
of telescope-rifles placed on the mule's back for a blind, with 
an assurance, and I may reasonably add, cheek, almost as 
great as the mule's, rather demanded that he be not inter- 
fered with as "them guns must go forward." The provost 
officer, informed as to the regiment owning "them guns," 
had no more to say except to tell his men to "let that mule 
go through — never stop that animal — those rifles are its 
passport," etc. After that, on similar occasions it was suf- 
ficient to say: "Sharpshooter Mule!" and it went right 
along loaded down with "extras" for the boys, to the very 
front. The mule was large and very tough, and although 
fodder was often scarce, muley appeared to have but little 
appetite. In fact, seemed to accustom itself to the hard 
times for all stray stock, as no regular rations could be 
drawn for horses or mules not on the list of those entitled 
to keep the same; therefore the luckless animal picked up by 
company officers, stood in a fair way to starve if it couldn't 
accommodate itself to circumstances, satisfied with gnaw- 
ing hard-tack boxes, and accepting such scraps as the boys 
would throw in its way. As for fresh grass — none grew 
under the countless soldiers' feet. But this particular muley 
would not hunt for more profitable quarters, preferring 
rather to be around among the boys, especially when the 
camp-fires were burning, and the coffee and meats cooking 
over the coals. There muley would stand, right in the way 
before the fire, its long nose snuffing up the fumes of the 
broiling meats or steaming coffee, while the curling smoke 
would circle in blue cloudlets around its ponderous head, 
but causing muley to flinch?— never ! In truth, it would 
snuff it all down with as much composure as a Turk would 


inhale the aromatic fragrance from his meerschaum, no mat- 
ter how thick it came. Occasionally one of those lengthv 
ears would flap over onto some stooping soldier's head, 
brushing off hat or cap into the fire, frequently upsetting the 
coffee and peppering the meat with ashes. 'T was no use to 
whip that mule, to beat it, or drive it away. It would be 
sure to be back to the fire before the soldier, and plant that 
long nose where the smoke was the thickest. Finally, it 
was resolved that this particular mule, kind and gentle 
though it was, molesting none except in the comical manner 
stated, unless an occasional switch of the tail would some- 
times spread carelessly over some luckless tormentor's face; 
't was resolved that muley was a nuisance. So, the lieuten- 
ant taking pity on the poor brute, made arrangements one 
evening to send it off to City Point, 12 miles distant; and 
after a formal leave-taking by the company, poor muley 
departed, although mulish about setting out. The absence 
of the mule at that evening's supper was favorabW noticed 
by the boys, and a "good riddance to bad rubbage," was 
the general verdict. City Point, as before stated, was 12 
miles distant, on James river, the road thereto being crowded 
more or less by scattering troops, with teamsters and teams 
without number, running thence through different camps, 
past patrol guards, amid jostling wagons which generally 
crowded the roads within the lines night and day, and it 
was certainly at that time considerable of an undertaking; 
yet, on that same night, the mule arrived there in due time, 
after a good feed was loosely corralled, and left to ruminate 
the balance of the night on the ups and downs in a muley 's 
career. But, on awakening the following morning, the new- 
master was surprised to find his beast of burden vamosed. 
Just as much surprised as were the members of the Sharp- 
shooter company, to find, that same next morning, stand- 
ing at the head of the company street near the cook's tent, 
their old friend, muley, waiting as was its usual custom, for 


the fire to be started. No ! muley could n't stand the change 
in its condition, although it was from a worse to a better 
one, but must plod its way back to the boys of Company G. 
So again for awhile did muley hang around, nosing the 
smoke, flapping its lengthy ears, switching the long tail. 
Another consultation took place, at which it was decided to 
take muley some two miles along the lines to an opening in 
the breastworks, then after passing out to the front towards 
rebeldom, to move back to a point opposite camp and there 
let muley go — the breastworks it was thought would prove 
a barrier to its appearance again. A detail being made, 
mule\' once more took its departure amid the congratula- 
tions of the boys. The programme was carried out to the 
letter; muley was cast loose about a mile from camp, with 
a long line of breastworks as a bar to its reappearance. 
There, the detail left muley, and started back to camp 
climbing the breastworks, takinga direct line to "quarters." 
Now, how 'twas done, is not known, but sure enough when 
the detail after a hurried march got back to the company, 
there stood inevitable muley at the head of the company 
street, having arrived just in time to take its old accustomed 
place, when the returning detail appeared entering the foot 
of the street. But the next day poor muley 's fate w^as ever- 
lastingly fixed. The company officer being out to the front 
on the picket lines, a senior captain at the time in command 
of the handful of men left to represent what w r as once one 
of the fullest regiments in the field, ordered the mule to be 
taken without the lines, beyond the breastworks, w T here the 
Sharps rifles finished its career instanter. Unfortunate 
muley fell a victim to its love for the boys, and the thick 
smoke of the company camp-fires. 

The army mule took an important part at times in the 
great battles in progress, impressed in to the heat of the fight, 
by bringing ammunition to the front; boxes of cartridges 
being slung either side the body with one or more on top, 


making a pretty heavy load. Particularly was this the case 
in the last half of the war. It was noticeable that great 
care was observed on reaching that part of the field "under 
fire," that muley was not struck by shot or blown up by 
exploding shell, and the cartridges scattered and lost. But 
as one of the great curiosities in the army was a dead mule, 
I presume that but few were sacrificed in that way. Mules 
were also used to carry coils of telegraph wire, which were 
run out and laid close to the army lines from one bivouac or 
camp to another, men being on duty for that especial pur- 
pose, with operators assigned to the different headquarters, 
particularly corps, who were thus in quick communication 
with the general commanding. Under Grant, in our last 
campaigns, this telegraph service kept pace with the differ- 
ent movements. 

During this time while we were in position behind the 
works as before stated, heavy artillery practice was almost 
constantly indulged in on both sides along the lines, while 
frequent discharges of musketry were heard; the Sharp- 
shooters being often rolled out under arms, in anticipation 
of an attack. For awhile the opposing pickets were on very 
friendly terms, those of the enemy coming over, trading 
tobacco for coffee, sugar, etc., and exchanging newspapers. 
The artillerists having entered into no such agreement, fre- 
quently blazing forth over their heads the heavy shot and 
bursting shell. During this period the enemy deserted in 
large numbers, principally at night, although oftentimes 
coolly walking over in the daytime, giving themselves up. 
They were mostly in our front, from the 8th and 9th Ala- 
bama regiments. Considerable information was furnished 
by the rebel newspapers, which were daily obtained at the 
picket lines. Lieut. Stevens, of G, received the Richmond 
Sentinel from two deserters whom he sent to the rear, one 
morning while out in charge of a number of posts, dated 
that da}', Sept. 3d, containing the news of the nomination 


at Chicago the day previous of McClellan for President, in 
advance of the northern papers, which latter arrived that 
evening confirming the same. The two deserters, on my 
asking what their officers thought of these desertions, 
replied very independently: "We don't exactly know, and 

we don't exactly care a , for we came over to stay, and 

with your permission we are going north" — and north they 

On this occasion the pickets were on particularly friendly 
terms, advantage of which was taken to distribute copies of 
the President's proclamation relative to deserters, which had 
a good effect. For, as before stated, many desertions from 
the enemy occurred. There were many, however, who seemed 
to distrust Lincoln the president, and wanted to hear from 
Grant the general. U he promised them the same terms, 
they were ready to come over. So, what purported to be 
Grant's proclamation was read to them, to their apparent 
utmost satisfaction. During this friendly spell, jokes and 
sharp hits were good naturedly indulged in, and the follow- 
ing episode soon became known along the line : 


In the forenoon of this day, the extreme post of the 
Sharpshooter detachment was the scene of considerable 
amusement at the expense of one of the group, who had 
got sold in the following manner. A rebel from a rifle-pit 
opposite, a hundred yards distant, had called over to "see 
the boys "as he expressed it, and having traded sufficiently 
in hard tobacco — big thick plugs a foot long — for coffee and 
sugar which he stowed carefully away in a couple of stock- 
ings — packed full — promised to give the Yank in question, 
"five dollars in gold," if he would go back to the Union 
sutler and buy him that amount of provisions; which 
arrangement was agreed to, when thereb made off to his own 
side of the plain. The northern soldier taking advantage of 


the prevailing quietness, stole away from his post and pro- 
ceeding to the sutler a mile or more to the rear, made pur- 
chases to the extent of a five dollar greenback. With his 
hands full of canned fruit, condensed milk, butter, cheese, 
bolognas, etc., he hurried back to the front. According to 
the agreement with the Confederate, he was to advance 
half-way over the intervening ground and laying down the 
supplies, return to his post. After which Mr. Johnny 
would saunter carelessly along- that way, avoiding obser- 
vation as much as possible from his officers, to prevent 
being ordered back, and on reaching the spot take posses- 
sion of the stores, then return to his pit after leaving the 
gold piece on a chip, which his Yankee friend, calling around 
soon after, would consign to his pocket. All these little 
arrangements appeared to be carried out, and the pro- 
gramme seemed a success. Yank left the sutler stores, 
Johnny came forward and got them, but when Yank 
returned to the place again and found on a chip, in place of 
a five dollar gold piece, a worn out chew of tobacco, he was 
forced to come to the sage conclusion that he had been 
badly sold— to pay him for violating existing orders regard- 
ing furnishing supplies to the enemy. 

The supplies for the Union troops were brought by 
teams from City Point, two days rations being issued at a 
time. To facilitate matters the lieutenant-general caused 
to be built a railroad along the lines from City point land- 
ing, which was rapidly finished the entire length. It wasn't 
as broad guaged as a trunk line, but it served the purpose 
for which it was intended. 

On the night of Sept. 4th considerable excitement was 
occasioned, especially with the enemy, by the firing of a 
double-shotted salute by the Union batteries, of 100 guns, 
in honor of the capture of Atlanta by the forces under Gen. 
Sherman. This caused a great commotion among the Con- 
federates who thought it the commencement of a general 

in THE akmv OF THE Potomac. 493 

assault, and they soon responded with interest, sending 
over a dozen mortar shells at a time, besides numberless 
other missiles from their cannon. A network of fiery balls 
could be plainly seen as they sped through the air, which 
with the numerous flashes and bright, expansive explosions, 
presented a scene never to be forgotten. 

The night of the 10th the 1st brigade stationed on the 
right of the 2d, at Fort Hell, were ordered forward to cap- 
ture and occupy the enemy's rifle pits, notice having previ- 
ously been given them to evacuate the same as they were nec- 
essary to straighten out the Union lines, besides were too 
close to our works to suit the general in command. Making 
a sudden dash with the 20th Indiana, the charge was success- 
fully accomplished, the enemy being taken by surprise. A 
number of prisoners (56) were taken, no firing occurring 
during the movement. As soon as it became known, how- 
ever, the enemy opened heavily until daylight of the 11th, and 
during that day sharp skirmishing followed. The Second 
Sharpshooters took a prominent part in this affair and had 
two killed, while the First Regiment, with their brigade, were 
held in readiness to repel any counter-attack that might be 
made by the enemy in their front. The telescopic rifles, 
however, were sent to the front during the afternoon of the 
11th to operate on the rebel gunners. After shooting at 
each other most of the following day, the pickets by mutual 
consent ceased firing, when immediately the top of the rifle 
pits on both sides was covered with soldiers, some smoking, 
others talking and laughing. Soon after, an officer was 
observed running along the lines of the enemy, when a rebel 
soldier standing up in plain view, notified our men that 
they had received orders to keep up their firing, in this 
significant manner: 

"Lookout! Lookout! Yank!" 

Down went both parties into their respective holes, 
w r hen firing was instantly resumed, and kept up along the 


lines with little intermission during the balance of the term 
of service of the First Sharpshooters as an organization, 
frequently resulting in casualties among the troops in rear 
of the works, especially after dark, many being shot in 
their beds. 

'On one occasion several of the companies out in front, 
were ordered to take possession of a position that had here- 
tofore been considered neutral on account of a well thereon, 
where Yank and Johnny had often met unarmed and drank 
each other's health. Soon after daylight the fracas began, 
by the Sharpshooters dashing forward and taking the place, 
capturing 85 of the enemy, and fortifying. For several 
days efforts were made to retake the ground, on account of 
this well, but we continued to hold it. 

On the 21st a grand salute of 100 guns was opened by 
Gen. Butler on our extreme right, for the great victory in 
the Valley of the Shenandoah by the troops under Phil 
Sheridan, causing another grand rumpus among the F. F. 
V.'s. The next day, Sept. 22d, Company G was mustered 
out, 12 in number. Previous to this date, during the 
month, E, F and H, received their honorable discharge; 
leaving but three companies, D, I and K, First Regiment, 
whose term had not expired; D being mustered out Novem- 
ber 22d, I and K later. Of the latter companies Eli Cook 
as first sergeant, and Lieut. Thomas B. Humphrey, who had 
gradually risen from the ranks to his well deserved position, 
commanded their respective companies. These remaining 
companies with the recruits and veterans, formed for awhile 
a consolidated battalion, until December 31st, when they 
were transferred to the Second Regiment, excepting those 
from Michigan, who went direct to the 5th infantry of that 
state. Subsequently, the Second Regiment remainingintact 
until February 20, 1865, a general break up and transfer 
took place of those whose term had not expired, to some of 
their respective state regiments: the New Yorkers to the 

IN Tllli AKMY OF Till-: 1'OTOMAC. V.Kt 

124th New York; Company G, (1st), going to the 36th Wis- 
consin; Company A, (2d), to the 1st Minnesota, etc. 
During this time they took part as sharpshooters and skir- 
mishers, in several more important affairs: Hatcher's Run, 
Boyd ton Road, and a skirmish at or near the Weldon road. 
So that in all, they were engaged in 65 actions. 

Charles H. Berner, of Company B, speaks particularly 
of the handsome manner in which they were treated by the 
officers and men of the 124th New York; and the same may 
be said of the other state regiments towards other com- 

Misfortune and sorrow seldom comes singly, and this 
was exemplified during the war in the many cases known to 
exist where families surrendered the lives of more than one 
member, as an offering to patriotism and the cause of the 
Union. Instances could be given almost innumerable. In 
the writer's company, the aged and crippled widow Dennis- 
ton of Fox Lake, Wis., lost her three boys, all she had, one 
killed and two dying eventually from wounds received. The 
Melvin family lost two by death from fever, with one dis- 
charged from same cause. Two Ingolsbe brothers were 
killed — all Wisconsin men. Also, in many cases, soldiers 
seemed to be continually getting hit, some of them wounded 
several times in the course of their term of service, while 
there were others who escaped entirely in scores of battles. 
Harrison DeLong, of Hopkins, Mich., (Company B), tells 
how he lost two of his tent mates twice — J. W T . Chidsey, 
who "was a splendid soldier, one of the best in Company 
B," killed at Locust Grove; and R. H. Rarick, wounded at 
Mine Run. And again, James D. Seward, killed at Peters- 
burg, and H. A. Seward, a brother, wounded and "crip- 
pled" at Spottsylvania. Of course there wasn't anything 
fair about it, for so many to get more than their share, 
while others went scot free ; except that we fully recognize 
the claim that all is fair in war. 


In October the Sharpshooters were very active on the 
front lines. On the 2d of the month, the Second Regiment 
while on the skirmish line had a sharp fight and broke one 
line of works near Poplar Grove church; later in the month, 
the 27th, they skirmished all day, capturing 50 prisoners 
near Stony Creek, as I am informed by Comrade Edwin 
Aldritt, an old stand-by of Company A, writing from his 
home on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, in Minnesota. 
Some of the boys called this day's work the battle of the 
Bull Pen. On the same day the First Regiment battalion 
went into the action at Hatcher's Run, deploying as skir- 
mishers, and advancing through the woods met a brigade 
of the enemy lying in ambush for our boys. They opened 
fire on the Sharpshooters, then charged them. A hand-to- 
hand fight took place, and while a Confederate was taking 
to the rear Norton M. Stannard and John W. Howard,, of 
Company I, who had been captured, Alonzo Woodruff, of 
the same company, sprang forward and with his Sharps 
rifle killed the rebel by a blow on the head. In the effort to 
get free Howard fell wounded, being left on the field, 
the others escaping. Howard was reported killed, but some 
years after the war, turned up alive and applied for a pen- 
sion, and it was a long time before the Department became 
satisfied he was the right- man. In this affair seven recruits 
were killed or wounded. 

There were also lost during the siege of Petersburg the 
following named members of the First Regiment : 

Co. A.— Killed: Adam Friedmann, July 30. 

Co. B.— Captured at Hatcher's Run: Harrison Frailick, 
died in rebel prison. 

Co. C. — Killed: William H. Thompson, Daniel Tila- 

Co.E. — Mortal wound: Edwin French. 

Co. F. — Killed: Daniel E. Bessie, Charles Danforth. 


Wounded: Carlos E. Mead, A. W. Bemis, Volney W. Jeneks, 
Jay S. Percy. 

Co. G.— Killed: Wm. McQuivey. Wounded: Geo. W. 
Griffin, foot amputated, and Charles W. Baker. 

Co. H.— Missing: July 17th, Lewis H. Soule, supposed 
to have been captured. 


Eli Cook, of Company I, tells the story: "October 31, 
1864, Berdan's First Sharpshooters (with the 105th Penn- 
sylvania and 5th Michigan) were ordered t© Fort Davis 
to do garrison duty. The regiment remained there until Nov. 
29th. Deserters came in quite frequently, and reported that 
the enemy were mining one of our large forts near the Jeru- 
salem plank road. Further reports led to the fact that Fort 
Sedgwick was the one that was mined. This was the farthest 
fort in advance on this part of the line. It was located on 
the right-hand side of the Jerusalem plank road, 25 rods to, 
the right and front of Fort Davis. The rebel rifle pits were 
15 rods in front of Sedgwick. The rebel fort, Mahone, was 
on the opposite side of the plank road, 40 rods from our 
lines. Fort Sedgwick was the one known as "Fort Hell," 
while Mahone opposite was called "Fort Damnation." So 
close were the rebs that if we showed signs o